When I was quite young, my parents, my sister, and myself went to a place called Edaville Railroad in Carver, Massachusetts. For no particular reason, I'd assumed for some time that it was closed. I was wrong, as I discovered just last night! Edaville Railroad still operates, under the name Edaville USA. I was glad to learn that.
There's a train track near my home, about a 5 minute walk away. Sitting in my apartment late at night, I can hear the train's whistle and even feel the vibrations as it passes. I can't describe how it makes me feel, but it stirs something deep within me. And whenever I stay somewhere near enough to a train track so that I can hear the occasional train going by, I get that same feeling.
There's a quote from John F. Kennedy about the sea, and the romantic feelings it evokes.
"I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came." (9/14/62 Remarks in Newport, RI at a dinner for America's Cup Crews)
So, what's the attraction of the railroad? It seems to be something deep within us as opposed to learned behavior, which is odd considering that ships (and the sea) have been around thousands -- millions -- of years, but the railroads are a relatively new invention. Two hundred years is just a small span of time when measuring humanity's history.
Nevertheless, something about trains -- possibly the freedom associated with getting on something that rapidly takes us away from where we are in a manner that defies turning around and going back at any point -- brings out a similar feeling in people. I know I feel it.
Thanks for your time.
Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge, Cape Cod, Massachusetts