FTLComm - Tisdale - February 5, 2000

It seems like they have always been here. But the iron horses that brought our ancestors to this land and hauled its produce away for more then seventy years were black smelly chugging beasts that all seemed to have indigestion and vented gases both noxious and benign.

The first Diesel electric locomotive to pull up in front of our house was a marvel even though we had seen them in movies and on television, having one rumbling in your front yard and blasting a horn rather
then shrieking into the air
with a whistle was a really big deal. It was 1958 and into early winter. It was a significant event and my father took some chalk and wrote down the date and that the first diesel had drawn a train through out little village.

Oddly enough it was a very long time until another one showed up. Then it seemed almost overnight and there were no more steam locomotives. In the fall of 62 only our passenger train numbers 6 and 7 had steam and they were brown cowlled monsters moved over from

the mainline but by spring of 63 when the snow was gone, so were the real engines. That summer whole trains of stone cold lifeless engines came through town on their way to Regina to feed the fires in the newly opened steel plant. There were tears in our eyes when 610 came in a mixed train one day, her doors open and she was cold.

610 was a small yard engine that often would come out on work trains and was smaller then the big mountain engines with naughty white trim. It was of the hand bomber era and though it had been converted to oil long ago it was a thrill to step on the peddle in the centre of the cab and the great mouth would open into the roaring fire.

The first concrete elevators have come and the wood ones will all quickly disappear, paper money is fast disappearing and maybe even trains themselves. Trains come and go you know that's why you always wave at the crew in the cab even though there is no caboose its okay to remember how the conductor and brakie would always wave back.

Clickity clack, clickty clack
Wheels are singing to the Railroad track
Hear the Whistle Blow,
Hear the Whistle Blow,
That long low lonesome Whistle Blow.

As I lie awake and listen
Listen for the train
Wish the railway didn't run so near
I listen for the whistle of that
long lost freight and
Thank the lord I'm just a bum again

Hear the Whistle Blow
Hear that Whistle Blow
That long lone lonesome Whistle blow

Go bum again

traditional folk railraod song of the late thirties.