Railroad Memories

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Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014

. . . when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don’t know,) it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it.

. . .

The stabler of the iron horse was up early this winter morning by the light of the stars amid the mountains, to fodder and harness his steed. 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Memories of my freshman year in college still visit me. Five hours from my parents who had nurtured me every day ruptured my routine, making sleep alone in the dorm difficult. Wakened on winter mornings before daylight at the distant sounds of a freight train whistle filled me with a sense of melancholy and homesickness. And at the same time, I felt some kind of unusual comfort. I believe it was because the railroad had fascinated me since early childhood, and hearing it on a solitary college morning provided some kind of continuity to my life. I don’t know.

Spending many nights in The Redlands Hotel in Palestine provides the same continuity. The hotel and gallery are two blocks from the Union Pacific railyard, and those constant sounds of the railroad accompany me during my stays down there. And I am still moved deeply when I experience those sights and sounds.

Two weeks ago, the Union Pacific Big Boy visited Palestine for an overnight stay. I’ll never forget the tremors I felt in the ground as that massive locomotive drew nearer to where I stood. The blast of the whistle and the smoke belching out of the stack made me tremble. At the time of this writing, I am in the midst of my first painting of that behemoth, still feeling the exhilaration of watching it steam and shudder in the predawn of the morning of its departure. I hope to finish the painting in the gallery this weekend, then move on to my next.

In recent years, I have created a number of watercolors of trains, and several of them are available in signed & numbered limited editions. You can seem them at my new website, in the “Trains” chapter: davidtrippart.com.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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