Working on the Railroads

I'm a big fan of bike trails.

One of the first in the country was built here in Wisconsin over the abandoned rail line between Elroy and Sparta, Wisconsin.

The trails are a great use of space for the public good and creates linear parks that double as corridors of transportation.

One reason the rails to trails are so much fun is the beauty of the land through which they pass.

Railroads stopped using track as their cargo was moved to 18 wheelers and their door to door service.

It made sense at the time.  None of the mighty railroads could envision a time when their industry could rise again.

So when gas prices rose dramatically after 2001 - cargo shipped by train increased.  But, our country missed out on many of the efficiencies of rail transportation.

The cost of shipping by rail car is much less per gallon than it is when hauled on the back of a semi-trailer.  Across the world, people move quickly and efficiently by rail from one place to another. Other than a corridor or two, the U.S.A. uses rail passenger cars mostly for nostalgia.

Attempts to bring streetcars (pretty much ripped out of most cities in the 50s as cars became kings of the road) back are tough sells to strapped taxpayers.

I faintly recall a trip by train as a child with my mom and dad from Janesville's train station, I think to Wisconsin Dells.

If that is where we went, it likely traveled by the track in the photo which passes through Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo.

The glory days of trains may be over, but the loud whistle which echos the strength of the big locomotives and its strong role in America's economy will be heard for many years to come.  And, perhaps in the future, passenger trains will return to whisk us from city to city.