LAKEVILLE — I grew up by the railroad tracks, and often walked them to get to school.
In my childhood the long stretch of gravel, wood, and iron would wrap around my neighborhood. There was a rundown rusted out railroad bridge that had rotten wooden planks, and this would provide gaping holes to the creek below. It was my mission as an invincible child to cross that bridge as much as possible over the summer months.
It could be argued that my love for trains started in those hot summer months of my youth.
As I took on the responsibility of adulthood this train from my childhood followed me in the quiet of the night.
I began to refer to these trains as the night train, and how the sound of that whistle piercing the cold air brought me comfort.
Often I would think about how that sound followed me. In the dead of the night when everyone else is asleep, but those who suffer from insomnia like me the whistle calls out.
When I took a Native American class in college as part of my culture studies there was a story I did a presentation on called “The Night Train.”
The story was relatable to my life, and how I view the presence of the night train. The main female character boards the night train, and this train has seen many things, and felt time pass on its tracks. Through the train’s eyes we view history, and the notion that it has a beautiful story to tell.
Now that I am a journalist I seek out the night train with a sense of longing for acceptance in a cruel world.
The Fall Foliage Express is put on by the Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. It has been a popular family-fun event for many years. The Livonia, Avon, and Lakeville Railroad offers a great tour through the rich countryside.
You board the train at the Conesus Lake Sportsmens Club and take a 90 minute trip to Industry and back. It all runs on the New York Central System with streamlined Budd-built stainless steel coaches.
Once on the train you take a window seat so you can enjoy the fall foliage, and ancient reminders of a time long forgotten in these small-towns.
It is on this journey that I recall my love for trains, and why it is so important for me to hear that whistle calling out to me in the quiet of the night.
Now this was not a night train. This was an early morning train. However, the message of the train is the same.
It reminds me of the stillness in my childhood on those hot summer days. When I would leap over the gaps in the rotten wood to make it to the other side of a tired bridge.
It reminds me of my tortured mind in the night, and the reassurance that a whistle would sound and bring me peace.
It reminds me of a time we have forgotten, and need to breathe back to life.
I am glad I got a chance to board the fall foliage express, and discover the relics of a past I wish I knew.
(Jasmine Willis is a reporter at Genesee Country Express)