I cross these tracks every work day - some days several times. And many, many trains per day travel on these tracks. Sometimes the trains are short, like this AMTRAK train.
And sometimes they are long freight trains that seem to stretch off into infinity.
Every time a train passes, I can hear the clang-clang! of the crossing gate, the whoo-whoo! of the whistle, and the rumble of the locomotive because the tracks are literally just outside my office window.
When a train passes, all cross traffic stops. Cars line up, pedestrians line up. And they all wait impatiently for the train to pass.
And, believe it or not, if the train stops for a while ( which can happen when a fully-laden freight train is coming into the train yard about a mile from here) sometimes
brave souls absolutely bonkers idiots will try to climb over the train to get to the other side of the tracks. People do some pretty dangerous and stupid things around railroad tracks. (You may recall when this happened outside my office last year.)
The railroad played an important role in the development of Oakland, California and the Port of Oakland (where I work). In fact, the establishment of railroads in California proved to be one of the most profound forces of change in the history of the state. Whole towns and industries grew up around railroad stops. Such was the case with Roseville, California, where Mom and Dad grew up. Roseville was in its railroad heyday during their childhoods and they remember its massive retarder yard that relied on gravity to aid in the movement of railcars. It was the junction of the east/west north/south railroad lines. A hub of railroad activity. And today, Roseville's trainyard is still the largest rail facility on the West Coast.
When I was growing up, Roseville was still a railroad town from one end to the other. We spent time there in the summer and at holidays when we were kids because both sets of grandparents were there. Mom's folks lived within sight of the tracks and a distinctive bridge over the tracks that must have been built in the 1920s or 30s. My older twin brothers would put pennies on the tracks to be squashed by the passing trains and we would count the cars as they went by. I always seemed to lose count after a hundred or so.
It seemed like everybody we knew in Roseville worked on the railroad. That's probably because both grandfathers did railroad-related work.
Grandpa (on the left) was a carpenter for the Pacific Fruit Express (PFE). He built and repaired boxcars. Gramps (on the right) was a locomotive engineer for Southern Pacific (SP). To a tiny impressionable girl, these two strong, tall men and the work they did seemed incredibly romantic. Still does.
I think of Grandpa & Gramps.