Sunday, May 28, 2017

Walking the Train Tracks

One of the best things about Canby Park was the train tracks that divided Canby Park from Canby Park West. Kids from my neighborhood used to walk those all the time. If you walked toward Wilmington you would end up in the city and there was all sorts of cool stuff to see there. The area that is now the waterfront with the Blue Rocks Stadium was an old WWII shipyard. There were a lot of old abandoned buildings down there complete with WWII era posters and signs. One of the buildings was the old powerhouse which was the one I liked the best.

Walking to Wilmington on the tracks also meant walking to West Yard. There were always trains to be seen and I always loved trains. One time I walked to the railroad yard where they stored the MU car trains that served the Wilmington commuters. I was poking around in these cars when an Amtrak Police officer showed up. he knew someone was there but was alone. We played cat and mouse and he shined his flashlight around and walked up and down between the cars. I dodged from one to another and hid here and there until he left. I then crossed the tracks and ventured back to my tracks and walked back home. It was scary and exciting but I never did that again.

Walking the other way lead to Elsmere Junction and the B&O railroad mainline between Philadelphia and Baltimore. This was not very useful because those trains ran fast and I knew those places were a long way. I once spoke to a crew that offered to take me for a ride to Pot (Potomac) Yard but I declined because I knew I would be a long way from home and would get in trouble for being gone so long. Another time a crew accused me of stoning the engine and the police came. They police were on the other side of the tracks and the train was blocking the way. I took off running and was long gone in a flash. I didn't stone the engine but I didn't want to deal wit the police.

Some of the train crews were nice and would stop and let us ride with them. This sort of thing never happens anymore. In fact most parents would never let a 12-year old wander like I could back then. I think most teens would prefer to stay home and fool around with some electronic device anyway and those types of experiences are just a thing of the past.

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