Quotulatiousness

August 28, 2011

ESR on railway sounds

Filed under: History, Railways, Randomness — Nicholas @ 00:08

Eric S. Raymond now lives close to a very busy railway line:

My house is located less than a hundred feet from the Main Line, the principal passenger-rail artery out of Philadelphia to the west — Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and ultimately Chicago and points west. Two dozen times a day passenger trains come bucketing by, but they’re barely a murmur through the dense secondary-growth woods between my back fence and the railroad right-of-way.

The loud ones are the night trains, the big heavy freights they route through when all the passenger cars are put to bed. They come through here rumbling like muted thunder in the still dark, long blasts of airhorns falling away like the mournful cries of vast creatures in a rusty ocean. Some people would find the noise intrusive, but I don’t; it comforts me.

[. . .]

This is my first house so near a railroad track, but I think I will always prefer that now. And I expect I’ll always keep at least one balky antique clock where I can hear it sound. The well-lived life may be full of large ideas and emotions and struggles to build something that will last, but the little details also matter.

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