Why do we love trains? Why do we spend countless afternoons walking through woods and fields following old rail beds and thinking of their history? Do we like to imagine how it would have felt to guide a big steam engine through the Islands on a moon lit night . I am sure there are as many reasons as there are people who love to do it.
So it is with me. I grew up in Winooski Vermont near railroad tracks and as a young boy remember a lot of times our ventures to find something to do would always lead us to the tracks to watch the "Trains". The huge engine, roaring, rumbling, and just looking so awesome in a young boy's eyes. I'll never forget the day that friendly engineer asked, "You boys wanna come on up", In only a second I was in the engine looking over the edge as we moved around the yard and thinking how cool it was to be up there. That engineer will never know how much that meant to me.
Time passed, I grew older, but always found myself visiting parts of the Rail lines around the Burlington Vermont area, mainly the old Rutland line and in particular the "Island Hopper" portion.
I do not know what it is exactly, but the
old rail bed has always intrigued me. I barely remember when it was in
operation. One time, when I was probably about 5 or 6 years old, on a
trip to North Beach, I recall seeing and old Rutland diesel crossing over the tunnel you walk under to get to the beach. This must have been in the final days of the Rutland as I was only 5 in 1961 when operation stopped.
I also remember seeing a train cross the drawbridge in North Hero from my aunt's camp in the "Gut" on Lake Champlain. The memories of the drawbridges and station houses on the fill are fading now, but the many trips I take to this day on that part of the line take me back to a time so long ago that somehow now seems like a dream.
I guess the question of why for me is answered.
This tribute, if you will, is to
the part of the Rutland that is spoken of very little. If, like me, you
never really experienced it, you can at least imagine what it was like to travel across the great Causeway in the heat of summer, with the beautiful waters of Lake Champlain at your door step, and the majestic mountains of the Greens in Vermont and the Adirondacks of NY in the distance. Hopping through the Islands of Lake Champlain on your journey North Ward.
For those who never really experienced it, like myself, you can imagine. And maybe if you get a chance you can walk some portions of that old rail bed and dream of what it must of been like, in those days so long ago.
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