Monday, May 4, 2009

Where did the caboose go?

I don't know when I noticed that freight trains no longer had a caboose, but the end of the end-of-the-train has me cross.

This info is all from Wikipedia, so take it for what it's worth, but apparently railroads were required to put a caboose on every freight train, for safety reasons, until the 1980s. To save money, the railroads argued that they could put a device on the last car that would monitor conditions and warn other trains of it's presence.

Well, there you have it: A machine beats man. John Henry must be turning over in his grave. (I mean the John Henry of streel-driving legend, not the John Henry of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles fame. Although he might be miffed, too, considering the season-ending episode where we find out he's a machine on the side of humanity.)

It's impersonal is what it is. I live near a train track and have to cross it whenever I want to buy gas, pharmaceuticals or groceries. And clothes or books, too. And it never fails that no matter what time I walk out the door I hear a train whistle.

If I'm going to have to wait on a train it would be nice to at least see a human face at the end of it.

(Photo by Sean Lamb -- Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.)