Since railroading began so many moons ago in the early 19th century, accounts of men’s (and later women’s) experiences working along or above the rails have been told again and again. Railroad stories and tales are a unique, interesting, and sometimes entertaining part of railroading. For those of us who have never worked on the ground in the industry the stories allow for a little more insight and unique glimpse into how it all works and for railroaders many such tales bring a chuckle and a nod.
Still, not all such stories are told just by railroaders. For instance, many folks tell stories that defy answers such as ghost trains that appear and disappear just as quickly, strange lights and noises along railroad right-of-ways (whether the tracks are still in place or not) that seem to come from nowhere (pretty eerie stuff, you know!).
In any event, for an idea of what some of these stories may contain please read this clip from author Larry Dumas, a fictional ghostly account of a tragic passenger train accident in the late 19th century:
Every Christmas Eve for the past 100 years, at ten minutes to midnight, a mournful wail floats through the frosty silence shrouding the 468-foot railroad bridge near Route 117 in Essex Junction, Vermont. It's the cry of a steam locomotive; a piercing shriek that climbs to a feverish pitch, only to end abruptly, plunging the night back into darkness. To the old timers in the area, it's a grim reminder of the demise of Engine 93, and Engineer, Edmund Johansson.
For hours, the wood and steel railroad bridge just outside town had endured the paralyzing minus 39-degree temperature that had silently descended on the wings of darkness. Deeper and deeper, the cold wormed its way into the metal, torturing the bolts in the thick, steel splice plate until their surrender sounded like gunshots in the empty night air. Unfortunately, because of the late hour and the terribly frigid night, there was no one about to hear the horror that had just spawned that December 24, 1898.
It was by far the coldest night of the year when Johansson's train -- two coaches full of French immigrants en-route to Montreal -- left White River Junction, winding its way through the moon lit, picturesque snow-covered hills of central Vermont. But inside the darkened locomotive cab the gangly Engineer wasn't interested in the scenery. Ignoring the billowy clouds of white steam rushing past the frost-etched windows of the locomotive, Johansson's steel gray eyes were coolly scanning the gauges, verifying what he already knew. He was pushing the iron 2-0-2 monolith close to its limits. Then, without so much as a care in the world, he nudged the throttle another notch.
So on that note, the purpose of this section of American-Rails.com is simply meant for fun, as it features those stories told by the authors themselves, some of which are/were even railroaders (if you are familiar with Trains Magazine’s Railroading Reading section, the stories here are of a similar nature). Some stories are serious true accounts while others are hilarious anecdotes, and even others that are fictional pieces altogether. Regardless, whether you are interested in railroading or not, the stories told are interesting nonetheless. So, with that, please enjoy the stories presented above (they are categorized by type).
Lastly, if you have a railroad-related story that you would be interested in submitting for inclusion here whether it is fictional, non-fictional, funny, or serious please contact me and we can see about adding it. There is no limit about how many railroad stories you may submit for entry and I only ask that they be clean, family oriented (meaning free of most profanity and crude jokes/comments/sayings so everyone can read and enjoy the stories). There is also no limit or particular size they must be, in terms of words, as long as it is about one page in length in any word processing program (i.e., like Microsoft Word). So, with that, if you have railroad stories which you would like to submit feel free to contact me by clicking here (stories from railroaders are especially very welcomed!).