The Rhythm Of The Rails

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 Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son,
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

Dealin' card games with the old men in the club car.
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score.
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor.
And the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpets made of steel.
Mothers with their babes asleep,
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.
(Arlo Guthrie Steve Goodman, City Of New Orleans) (Corrected via commenter).

Here's a fascinating bit of information. I had no idea that private railroad cars were still around and still in service and that many are available to rent for various excursions. They range from sleeper cars that have a number of private rooms to luxury parlor cars.

A relatively small number of train devotees have purchased and refurbished the private rail cars familiar in the first half of the 20th century — the golden age of passenger rail travel.

Passengers can sip cocktails and nibble on hors d'oeuvres while sinking into deep leather sofas in lounges paneled in rich mahogany and be lulled to sleep at night by the rhythm of train wheels rolling down the rails.

"I wasn't a train buff, but I am now," said Donna Cothron, who took a trip with her husband on the Cincinnati-based Oliver Hazard Perry sleeper-lounge. "I could travel like this forever. It's so relaxing."

The Cothrons' car was part of a train that went to Chicago for shopping and sightseeing, then through picturesque Michigan towns such as Petoskey on the banks of Lake Michigan and Boyne Falls, where the train pulled into a Polish Festival.

"Everyone was so excited in all the small cities we stopped in, and some brought their kids to see the train," Cothron added. "You felt like you were riding with the president."

While the Cothrons' car was chartered for their use only, the private-car train also included the Vista Dome sleeper-lounge topped with a glass dome providing a 360-degree view and the Birch Grove sleeper that accommodates 22 people.

The private single cars and multi-car trains normally travel Amtrak routes, hooked onto the back of Amtrak passenger trains as they wind through the Sierra Mountains or the Great Plains or into bustling metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York and Washington.

Sometimes they go off Amtrak lines, hiring a freight engine to pull the cars along short-line railroads that are less traveled and offer a more leisurely pace and the opportunity to stop in small towns.

The Cothrons leased a car with three bedrooms, two showers, kitchen, dining room and lounge solely for themselves and were served by a chef-concierge.

Some of the companies that do this: The Cincinnati Railroad Company, Rail Journeys West, American Rail Excursions and The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, Inc.

Here's some information on the Pullman Palace cars. Wikipedia here.

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2 Responses to The Rhythm Of The Rails

  1. City of New Orleans was popularized by Arlo Guthrie, but it was written by the late, great Steve Goodman. He’s also written the all-time best song about any sport, A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request.

  2. Gaius says:

    Thank you for pointing that out.

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