Onlookers Stand In Awe While Old-Fashioned Steam Train Crosses Bridge

PeoPublished: August 2, 2018Updated: August 3, 201833,224 plays$34.87 earned
Published: August 2, 2018Updated: August 3, 2018

"We hear the mountain rumble, that single piston roar,
Out the mountain’s nostril, foul dragon’s breath does pour."

He approaches the railroad crossing on his motorbike, just as the red warning light blinks on and off. The crossing gate arm swings down with finality, forcing traffic on both sides of the narrow country road to a standstill. A chugging rumble issues from the mountain tunnel portal. The mountain trembles and the earth quakes with low intensity. A strange, almost comical whistle seems out of time in a way he can’t put his finger on. Expecting a modern passenger train, he is astounded when an old-timey steam engine emerges, pulling quaint passenger cars. It’s like a scene from an old western, or even The Wild, Wild West.

The place is Italy, where, apparently, infrastructure doesn’t go obsolete for a very long time. A perfect shock of thick white steam trail combs over the dorsal length of the passenger train; its 13 cars and trailing caboose awash in a hot cloud. The train chugs past at its 19th Century pace, but the exhibition is not yet complete: literally, a tube of dense steam pours out of the tunnel, completely obscuring the opposite lane. Even though the crossing gate lifts, signaling, “It’s safe! You can cross now,” drivers are tasked to trust their eyes over the crossing signal, and wait out the vaporous deluge.

We can hear, or we think we hear the chuckling of the bikers to each other, and the imaginary dialogue between the north and southbound lanes:

“You go first,” says the guy in the car of the southbound lane.

“Ha! YOU go first!” says the guy on the motorcycle.

Everyone exercises reason, and they patiently wait out the duration of the steam cloud. It’s as thick as toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. Nobody’s going anywhere until the coast is clear. No telling how long that will be. Does the tunnel fill up with steam from one side to the other, or, how does that work, exactly? How long is this tunnel? Then we see one intrepid man on a bicycle, another low tech and archaic mode of transportation, pedal through, emerging from the still pouring wall of steam. He smiles at the motorcyclists, like a general leading his army to charge. They take his cue, rev up, and more than a little cautious, test the crossing. Can’t blame them for being careful.

Maybe these adventurers will make a stop at the nearest pub or café in the next country town for vino, or an old-fashioned beer, to tell the locals about their latest experience. What must it be like, one of them wonders, to ride as a passenger through a tunnel in a steam train? How can you even breathe with so much steam? Is it pitch black the entire length of the tunnel? Are the cars lit? Are there lights in the tunnel? Do modern trains use this track? We notice a railroad bridge and a river gorge, and we hope that a passenger had the presence of mind to take pictures, or a video, and share them with us.

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1 comment

  • 1 rumble
    NatiSk · 18 weeks ago

    How much smoke from this locomotive. Stunned.