Running on Empty

The Jackson Browne song reflected in the title of this post has nothing to do with railroads but it does have a line about “looking out at the road rushing under my wheels.”

He meant a car and not a train. Indeed Browne said the idea for the song came to him while driving to a studio every day in 1976 to record his album The Pretender.

Browne’s 1978 hit came to my mind as I watched this empty coal hopper train roll beneath me as I stood on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail near Kent.

The eastbound train is probably headed for a mine in southwest Pennsylvania.

Arguably the theme could apply to coal trains generally. Coal trains are still around and not going away anytime soon, but coal as a fuel continues to lose ground to natural gas.

In fact the coal industry might be able to relate to another line in the song, “I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on.”

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