The CB&Q and the Santa Fe railroads , double tracks each, crossed paths a mere block from our house where I grew up in Cameron. Click on the second bar up from the plus sign on the map, click west once. What you see as 180th was as I remember it, the Cameron Blacktop. Neither did I know it as Railroad Street. To save us all a little time, there were no street names when I lived there. Zip zero nada. It didn’t take long to know where you were going, so there was no need. Our house faced Railroad Street, was halfway between West St. and Pearl and the back yard touched Vine which I remember as two dirt & gravel tire strips with grass between them. I would like to think it was called Vine because Mom’s grapevines are still there.
That’s the Cameron station on March 21, 1943. I don’t know when it ceased to be a passenger stop. How sad. I remember once peeking in the window and seeing benches, broken and in disarray that had once been polished and proud to be a part of a bustling society. When I was there, the only attention paid to Cameron was grabbing the mail bag from the hook and throwing off another one, not even slowing down.
180th becomes Railroad St. at the via duct, or overpass, where the two rail lines cross, seen easily
behind The Nan, Easter, 1965. I used to climb on the supports every chance I had, but don’t tell her. Once, as I was driving into town from the west, I saw four trains, two heading east, two heading west, meet at the overpass, all laying on the horns. Of course the conductors had to be waving at each other. That didn’t happen often, and only once in my memory.
Backtrack a little to Easter 1956. That’s me, aged 6. You can tell how close to the tracks we were. CB&Q was Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy. That would be the one directly behind us as it was more East and West. The line crossing diagonally Southwest had to be the Santa Fe.
Let me tell you, those trains were loud, not only the whistles but the racket the wheels and tracks produced. In the summer evenings, the routine was as follows: Train’s comin’! One kid closes the front door, another closes the windows, another turns up the TV as loud as it goes. Stand your post until the train is gone, open the door, open the windows, turn down the volume and race for the good chairs. Someone always ends up bawling that the other one got the rocker and so it goes. Happens every night. But you can’t miss a word of Lassie, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, or Lucy.
Did the trains run during sleep hours? Ask Stan.
Litchfield was only a day’s drive from Cameron. When we visited, Stan and I were put up in the better front bedroom. What an honor. If it was summer, the windows were open as there was no AC. So…… the whistle sounds in the distance. It gets louder and louder. The light on the front of the engine is sweeping back and forth, its beam bouncing in and out of the bedroom window. Walls are rumbling, eyeballs are vibrating, and you swear the bed is dancing as the horn is held down and 100 freight cars scream through town right in front of the Murphy homestead. Speeds varied from around 40 mph for freights to 60 mph for Zephyrs but it seemed like forever before it was gone. After one or two nights, you get used to it and sleep right through. It even becomes comforting after a time.
Did Stan get much sleep on his vacation to the in-laws?
Some memories are priceless.