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Train Whistles Not Appreciated By Some Folks In Madison

November 2, 2016

This morning I was greeted in my email with some folks who seem not to appreciate the train whistles that at times are heard in our neighborhood.  I just shake my head.

It is nearing a decade since I moved to Madison’s isthmus and can now say living within earshot of the tracks my love of the train whistle has only grown stronger.  When I lived on the west side of Madison, and the air was clear late at night so sound could easily travel, I would often hear the train whistle near Middleton.  The plaintive cry from the engine would sing-song its way over the neighborhood, and stir my soul.  There is a quality to the sound of a train in the night that conjures up images of adventure, romance, and history.

When we moved to our Victorian I was pleased to know that the train tracks were just a few blocks away, and I could hear the whistle almost daily.  In fact, on our many long walks through the neighborhood James and I have often walked towards the sound of the train whistle, only to stand near the tracks and feel the rumble and power as the cars roll on to their destination.

I admit there is real noise pollution in our city, and those disturbances should be curtailed.  Such things as car speakers with more bass and volume than brain matter in the driver’s head, or the need to talk louder when conversing on a cell phone while in a public place, are two issues the ‘no whistle’ crowd may want to deal with first.

However, in the still of the night as the train lumbers along in Madison and blows the lonesome whistle, think of those who once jumped on board and traveled as far as they could with a hope and perhaps an old harmonica.  The whistle is a call to reflect on the past, to dream of far of places, and faces of the past who also heard the whistles and took a chance on riding the rails.

Now go and enjoy a train whistle near you!

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