Culture Magazine

Friday Fotos: Toy Trains, Longwood Gardens, December 25, 2017

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
Trains are magical mythical beings. During the 19th century they crisscrossed the globe, binding regions into continents. Here is what Henry David Thoreau said about them in Walden (1854):
When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion ... with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in gold and silver wreaths ... as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; 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.

Movies were made about them, bluesman sang about them, and Walt Disney built a theme park organized around a high-tech monorail, while he had a scale model train in the yard of his home.
I still remember going downstairs one Christmas morning when I was a child and seeing an electric train circling on its tracks beneath the Christmas tree. I was entranced. It was mine, from the mythical Santa Claus.
I remained entranced long after I’d figured out that Santa Claus was not real. My model trains were real, if only diminished simulacra of real trains. I would buy model railroad hobby magazines and marvel at the fantastic things they contained, even the advertisements: for trains, tracks, accessories of all kinds – signal lights, coal loaders, water towers, stations, trees, miniature trees, paper to clothe imaginary mountains, everything you needed to make a model world bound together with the magic of the railroad. And, of course, there were the stories of layouts that hobbyists built, generally in their basements.
My father built a platform in our basement, taking up most of one half, the other half was given over to his workshop (and the furnace). By that time I had two trains, Lionel O-gauge, a steam locomotive pulling freight cars and a diesel, from the Santa Fe line, with its red and yellow colors, hauling sleek aluminum passenger cars. The layout was relatively simple, involving only three switches, two circuits, a siding or two, and a short tunnel. I had several buildings but never got around to building the land formations I envisioned in my mind’s eye.
I also designed ever more elaborate layouts for that platform. I had a drawing board, T-square, triangles, and drafting instruments. I would tape a piece of paper to the board, draw nice border around it, and then design a layout in that space. I used the same instruments to design space ships. They, of course, were somewhat further from by ambit than a model train layout. No matter what you design the drawing board, paper, and instruments are the same.
Is that what trains are, instruments of the imagination, transport to the stars?

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • 5 Fictional Fashion Icons Who Can Inspire You to Look Stylish, Cool & Quirky

    Fictional Fashion Icons Inspire Look Stylish, Cool Quirky

    5 fictional fashion icons who would inspire you to look stylish, cool and quirky Being stylish usually means keeping up with the latest trends and maintaining... Read more

    The 24 June 2018 by   Khadija Beauty
  • Some Other June

    Some Other June

    Still camera-less but around here, one June looks much like another. These are from 2014 but they could have been taken yesterday -- day lilies rioting, tomatoe... Read more

    The 24 June 2018 by   Vickilane
  • A Guide to Choosing the Best Summer Fabrics

    Guide Choosing Best Summer Fabrics

    In summer, with high temperatures, to survive the heat it is important to wear clothing that let the skin breathe. There are types of fabrics that in contact... Read more

    The 24 June 2018 by   Fashionbloggeritalia
  • Tasting Notes: Black Isle: 5-A-Day

    Tasting Notes: Black Isle: 5-A-Day

    Black Isle: 5-A-Day (Scotland: Fruit Session IPA: 3.5% ABV)Visual: Darkened yellow to brown. Very large off white bubbled head.Nose: Passion-fruit. Lightly... Read more

    The 23 June 2018 by   Alcoholandaphorisms
  • About 60% of Methane is Released By Oil and Gas Operations, Study Shows

    About Methane Released Operations, Study Shows

    About 60% of Methane is Released By Oil and Gas Operations than EPA Thought, Study Shows Based on a study which was released on Thursday, it has been... Read more

    The 23 June 2018 by   Rinkesh
  • Classic Media Advertising Pages

    Classic Media Advertising Pages

    I frequently feel like running the Harvey Mercheum is a lot like juggling, trying to keep many balls in the air at once. It turns out that I am a terrible... Read more

    The 23 June 2018 by   Hmcurator
  • Blogs to Check Out

    Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Summer break is here! Finally. I didn’t think it would ever get here. Winter was way too long this year. This summe... Read more

    The 23 June 2018 by   Lisaorchard