Railroad Stories: Riding the Rails Was Popular Way of Traveling

Most travel consisted of riding the rails.

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In the summer of 1942, my family decided to meet in Idaho, at my sister's house, before my brother left for the Navy. I was living in Nebraska at the time, so my children, ages 3, 4 and 5, and I rode the train, as back then, riding the rails was the most common way of traveling.

My husband took us to the train station, which was 13 miles from home, and we began our journey.

We left on a Saturday morning and changed trains in Billings, Mont. After several hours in Montana, we boarded another train and headed for Spokane, Wash. The conductor was very considerate. He had us wait until the servicemen had boarded, then he put us in a car where we each had a seat to ourselves, so the children could sleep through the night.

We arrived in Spokane, Wash., Monday evening and caught the next train to Moscow, Idaho. This trip shouldn't have taken long, but we had to stop for a couple of hours while crews cleared the tracks where there had been a train wreck.

We finally arrived in Moscow, Idaho, about 2 a.m. There was nobody there to pick us up. A taxi driver asked if we needed a ride, but I explained that my family was picking us up. He left to take someone else somewhere and returned to find us still sitting there. He asked me again if we needed a ride. This time I gladly accepted. He took us to my sister's house, and we woke everybody up.

The reason nobody was there to meet us, was because I had sent a letter, expecting them to get it on Monday, not realizing that there was no mail delivery on Labor Day. To make matters worse, our luggage did not arrive when we did. I had packed an extra outfit for each child to put on the train with me and checked the rest. We stayed for 10 days, and our luggage showed up the day before we left.

Mrs. Leland Aspegren
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.