Railroading as it Once Was: Still Chasing Fate

el-tribute

In light that October 17 was the day the Erie Lackawanna was created in 1960, I’ll repost this “Roger’s Reflections” piece.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad was (and remains) very instrumental in how I got into this hobby back in the early 70s.

Friendly crews and an attractive company image drew me to that railroad right from the first time I started hanging out where the railroads passed through my home town of Akron, Ohio.

Sure, there were other railroads in town, several of which passed right next to the EL lines.

Yes, they were trains and were interesting in their own right. It was the EL that grabbed my attention the most.

With fast mainline trains, frequent cab rides in the yard, and railroaders who took the time to explain the workings of their job to a young fan it’s no wonder I got hooked on the EL.

I would also come to learn that the EL was struggling just to continue operating. A smaller underdog surrounded by larger carriers, the EL kept rolling mostly through the sheer will of its people.

The beginning of the end came in 1976 when the EL was merged into Conrail and ceased to exist as an operating carrier, its motive power and people scattered to the four winds.

In a few short years the tracks through town that once held my undivided attention fell quiet, the sound of steel wheels replaced by the sound of growing weeds. The railroad was gone.

While the EL may be long gone its presence  — its spirit if you will – is often in my thoughts to this day.

It was something that was in my life but then gone all too quick, new found friends and pretty locomotives all disappearing in the blink of times eye. Hard lessons learned at an early age.

Yes, seasons change, and as fall approaches I like to remember how the colors of the EL seemed to fit the fall season just perfectly.

It’s the time of year I miss the EL the most. I paraphrased a song by David Arkenstone called “Slip Away” as a caption to the below above that I’ve titled Missing Diamonds.

The seasons change
and age our temporary souls
I was chasing fate
along its winding road

Your flame burned bright but passed into smoke
And those trains
that passed through my life
now roll down rails of gold

I close my eyes
and drift into a shining memory
but I can’t see your trains
as those rails fade into dreams

Yes, the seasons change . . . and age our temporary souls
And I’m still chasing fate along its winding road.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

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