Trains and Whistles

The trains that roar through Castle Rock are beautiful (and noisy) things.  Some Castle Rock residents want to move the tracks to the west side of I-25 (for obvious safety reasons).  I am against this as I believe that the Train is a necessary component to our small town lifestyle and I personally love it!  Without the Train we wouldn’t have small town traffic jams, moving buildings, rattling windows, loss of sleep and necessary pauses in conversation to ponder the little pleasures in life.  The Train is so interwoven into our lives in Historic Castle Rock, that we sometimes take it for granted.  Not me.

I used to live right next to the train tracks…and I mean within 50 feet of the tracks.  The house was built in the early 1900’s and the foundation was actually made out of old railroad ties.  While the tracks on the west side of town are for the trains traveling south with cars full of coal, the tracks that run through downtown Castle Rock (right behind my old home) are for northbound trains that are usually empty.  Well, it stands to reason that empty trains go faster than full trains.

There was this conductor that I had aptly named the ‘Blowhard’.  Never met the guy (could have been a girl for all I know).  Anyway, most nights this conductor worked the very early morning shift…about 1:00 am.  This Train woke me up even before reaching town.  Blowhard would start laying on his horn at about the Plum Creek area south of Castle Rock and would continue laying on it as he (or she) roared through Town doing at least 55 miles an hour.  The ground would literally move when this train came through.

Eventually, my boys and I started sleeping through this commotion.

One night, I woke up to the sound of things falling and breaking downstairs in the house.  My children were with me so I immediately was transported into ‘mother bear’ mode.  I grabbed the baseball bat that I had under my bed and came barreling downstairs screaming some nonsense like ‘I’m going to get you whoever you are!’  My boys came out of their rooms and stared at their wide-eyed disheveled Mother as I cruised through the room with my baseball bat trying to figure out what happened.

I finally noticed that some shelves in my entertainment center had fallen causing a few glass collectables to break.  We all stood there for a while and listened to the fading train whistle and realized that the Blowhard had come through town and we had slept through it (well, most of it).  I could just picture Blowhard laughing maniacally as he blew by our house.

The bad thing is that I lost a few possessions…the good thing is that my young boys couldn’t sleep in that house anymore without sleeping in my bed with me.  Sometimes the good stuff in life comes from unexpected sources.  Like I said, I love that train.




  1. Claire Roberts
    Claire Roberts
    August 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    What a nice story Catherine. As I was ready the story I was picturing you with a bat, the two boys… the conductor laughing…just like a movie…I love it!

  2. Julie Lawton
    Julie Lawton
    August 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Catherine, your words create indelible images….This is my new favorite blog site!

  3. Chrissy Madden
    August 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    I hate that train. When I was living downtown they were still at it. One person would sound at every intersection, but this one, he just laid on it all through town, like you said. I definitely thought they did it on purpose to mess with people.

    I’m sure some people can get used to it, but I never did. If I had to have the windows open because it was too hot, the train kept waking me up. If I kept the windows closed, it was the heat. LOL It was the most sleepless year of my life!!! And you know how far away from the train I was living!!

    I didn’t know people were asking to move the train. As much as I hated the overnight noise, I wouldn’t want it moved. It’s part of downtown. I just won’t live there. LOL Although, it would probably be a great bike path! lol

  4. Kathy Bourne Church Swanson
    August 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    What a beautiful, descriptive writer you are! Great story! I am with you on loving the train, though agree with Chrissy and am not sure I could live right next to it with Blowhard pressing unrelentingly on the horn at 1 am every morning!

    • Risa
      August 25, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      My sister worked for the railroad for over 20 years and rose through the ranks, no mean feat for a woman in that industry in the 1070s. I’ve always loved the sound of trains but never lived that close to the tracks. We did live next door to a volunteer fire station and that whistle had to wake men miles away. If you were in the yard when it went off, you didn’t recover for hours. but I always slept through it after the 1st night.

  5. Bev Fischer
    Bev Fischer
    August 26, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I also lived in a home that had trains running behind it. We lived there for over 30 years and were not bothered by the train. You do get used to it and the sound of it was rather soothing. (not the whistles) My boys used to put pennies on the tracks so the train would flatten them out.

  6. Kristin
    August 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Very nice story Catherine, actually Connor told us that story once, and he laughed and laughed about how you came running down the stairs with a bat! Very funny!!

  7. Patti
    August 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Awwww….. what a sweet story Catherine! I used to love it when my kids crawled in bed with me, whatever the reason. Now I get the joy of having my grandson do the same. Great idea for the blog.

  8. phammett
    August 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    What a wonderful story Catherine! I also grew up in a small town with a train about a quarter of a mile from our home. Needless to say, I LOVE the sound of the Castle Rock train whistling through town. It warms my heart and makes me feel very nostalgic. 🙂

  9. Pat
    June 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I enjoyed your story Catherine!!! An old train track was turned into “The Rabbit Trail” for walkers, joggers, and bicycles going from downtown Travelers Rest, SC to downtown Greenville, SC….providing a place for exercise as well as seeing friendly faces!!! More foot traffic in downtown areas is not really a bad thing….just sayn!!!! 🙂

    • thebarnchatterbox
      June 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Very interesting thought!! Thanks for your comment!!

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