Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.

Railway Travel Once Upon a Time


Several years ago I went back for a visit to Dawson Creek, where my family arrived in a railcar like this one in 1953. I was shocked to think that the railcar was now a museum piece.

What did that make me?!!

Below is a picture of my older sister and one of my brothers (being goofy) as we cross Canada from Montreal to Dawson Creek, B.C. in 1953 in a railcar like the one above. The man on the right is no one we know.

Notice the very uncomfortable-looking bench seats!

This year on the way home from the snowed out trip to Montana, I saw a railcar that made me re-assess what “old” really looked like.Β  I don’t know the vintage of the car below, and I presume it carried something other than people – possibly grain, but not livestock, as I don’t see any windows to allow animals to breathe. In the background on the right, are other “old” railcars, some of which might have been passenger cars.

By rail was the way to travel in those days. No driver’s licence needed. You didn’t have to watch where you were going, unless you wanted to. Possibly, even the conductor had a snooze for a few minutes while crossing the many miles of prairie.

Have you traveled by train? What did you think about it?

Author: wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

23 thoughts on “Railway Travel Once Upon a Time

  1. That’s a nice-looking old wooden railcar. I wonder what that aero-dynamicky thing on top is for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Old-fashioned GPS. Just kidding. I don’t know. I hadn’t even noticed it until you pointed it out. This was taken in Washington State, I think, and it can really blow on those prairies so it could easily be some sign or piece of a structure that landed there. Would be interesting to know though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can imagine those benches took their toll on your backsides after a lot of travel time. Your older sister was a real beauty and it is good to know that those good looks obviously run in the family. (ha ha ha) In case your followers don’t know, I am one of the sisters…the youngest one. As far as the brother goes, he has always been a bit goofy. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not so much. Great photos of the train cars and interesting story as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy train travel. The seats are a lot more comfortable today too😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Trains were an important part of prairie life. Two of my uncles left the farm to work for CN. The train whistle echocing across the land always sounded so sad and forlorn. I did travel by train and found the novelty was quickly replaced by boredom.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have travelled by train, a few times in Canada and much more often in Europe (I used to live there) and the UK. I really enjoy train travel, but certainly not on those seats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I saw the photo and realized that we came all the way across Canada like that, I wondered how we survived, but we were younger then. I was six years old and that wouldn’t have bothered me, but I wonder how my parents’ bottoms felt after a few hours. Maybe they put a blanket down on the seat. I don’t know. I remember doing a lot of colouring in a book to keep busy. That probably kept my mind off the uncomfortable seats.

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  6. I was travelling by train when I was young. That was back in Switzerland and I loved those rides. They were only short ones and the seats were a bit better.

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  7. I absolutely love traveling by train.
    Lately, I have traveled often. I used to enjoy 1st class, but nowadays this feels like a total waste of money since the 2nd class cars are nearly as great as 1st class at not even half the price. (at least here in Germany) πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Delightful post and photos, Anneli. To this day, the sound of a train whistle in the distance brings fond childhood memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that picture of your mom and brother. She looks so happy.

    The only train I’ve traveled on is the one that commutes from the suburbs into the city (Chicago). I used to love taking the train downtown when I was growing up here. The population in the burbs grew exponentially after I left. It was quite a shock to see how metropolitan our quiet burbs had become when I moved back. The train to the city is way more packed than it was all those years ago. It’s not quite as fun, but I still like doing it on occasion. I’ve never taken a cross country rail though. I looked into it for a ride back home when I lived in Florida, but the price and out-of-way-travels to get there weren’t worth it. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input, Lori. I hadn’t thought about there being trains in Chicago. Do you mean subway trains? And the picture in my post is of my late sister (quite a bit older than me) and my half brother. I was six at the time, but I remember bits and pieces of the trip. It was a better way to cross this big country than driving – not that we had a car back then.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, sorry Anneli. I didn’t realize you had half-siblings or such an older sister. Didn’t your family move to Canada from Germany?

        Chicago has commuter trains from the burbs into the city. People who work or go to school down there (DePaul, Loyola) use them instead of driving, (although there are a ton of drivers, too). It’s not a subway train, but the city does have a subway and also a sky train.

        The commuter train into the city has upper and lower level seats. I posted a photo on my blog in one post where we went downtown. There is a picture of my husband looking out the window, and you can see the skyline of the city through the green glass of the train-car. You can’t really see much of what it looks like inside though.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve checked your link and saw that I had “Liked” it then. I guess it didn’t click with me at the time that this train was in the Chicago area. And yes, my parents and their blended family kids came to Canada from Germany when I was just starting grade one. It was a good move. Hard work, but we all built a good life and gave back to the community.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoyed your reminiscing Anneli! My husband loves photographing steam and Diesel engines. We are lucky to live near the beautiful North York Moors Railway and often enjoy a ride through the countryside on a lovely steam train or a walk in the landscape watching the trains go by. It’s like stepping back in time to a slower, more relaxed era!

    Liked by 1 person

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