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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jerry Rasmussen Discussion: Love Affair With Trains (121* d) ADD: Milwaukee/St. Paul (Jerry Rasmussen) 20 Jun 02

Hi, Jen Ellen:

I wrote this song about the railroad line that went through my home town when I was a kid growing up in Southern Wisconsin. Trains always held a mystery to me. Lying in bed at night, I could hear the train whistles moaning as they headed off across the prairie, and the railroad tracks always promised a freedom and adventure that a little kid found fascinating. I lived four blocks from the railroad tracks and "wasted" much of my summer days along the tracks. We'd walk the tracks out to the country to abandoned gravel pits where we'd build rafts and have titanic battles to try to sink each other, or go shooting frogs or pop bottles with our bb guns. When I got older, we'd climb up under the railroad trestles and catch pigeons at night. Or, we'd stop by the ice house and beg chips of ice from the man when he came to the back door. Railway Express was the way to ship larger items, and it was always exciting to go up there on the rare occasion when someone shipped something to us. In the early 60's, they tore the railroad depot down in my home town, and stopped passenger service, even though the town is over 60,000 population. I wrote this song in the mid-60's.

(Jerry Rasmussen)

Walking down the track on a dusty day
With the long steel rails so shiny
Now they tore the railroad depot down
And the tracks have all gone rusty

Fishing off the edge of the railroad bridge
You can feel the steel rails humming
Better put your bait and your bucket down
'Cause the train will soon be coming

All you got to do is to walk those ties
And they're bound to lead you to the country
Lie on your back in the tall, sweet grass
Or you can take your dog and go hunting

I could sit and watch those trains all day
And the cars just keep on coming
Chicago Northwestern, Milwaukee St. Paul
And the steel rails keep on humming

I sang this song at a folk festival out here on the East Coast, and someone came up to me afterwards and said, "I fished off that bridge." I got excited, and figured that he'd grown up in my home town. I said, "Did you grow up in Janesville?" and he answered, "No, Colorado... but it was the same railroad bridge."

And it was


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