Railroad Stories: Riding the Rails Has Been Part of Life

Love of riding the rails started as a child and has continued through adulthood.

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For me, riding the rails started when I was a child. During my grade-school years, my mother and I would take train trips to Wichita Falls, Texas, on Friday evenings and return late Sunday. The train we took was the Fort Worth and Denver. This railroad was built before the turn of the century and is still in use.

During World War II, I rode on the Santa Fe from Amarillo to Indian Gap, Pa. What made this trip interesting was that I had to change railroad stations. As I was in a military uniform, I received a good deal of help, telling me how to reach the station.

In a matter of a few days, I found myself on another troop train, bound for Augusta, Ga. When we were in the Washington, D.C., railroad yards, another soldier and I were allowed to get off the train to take trash to an incinerator. Of course, we were really young, and we thought that standing on the grounds of the nation's capitol was a real treat.

Within four months, I was on another troop train going to Seattle. This trip took a full week because so much time was spent with the train idled because other trains held a higher priority for the use of the tracks. One thing I remember well was crossing Kansas. The state had received a wonderful crop of wheat that year, and those wheat fields looked so beautiful.

Our group didn't stay in Seattle long, and we were told to get ready for another troop train. Eventually, we ended up at the Orlando Air Force Base. A few months rolled by, and I was up for discharge. This time I rode a train to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

My life has been filled with many wonderful train rides in Canada, Germany and Switzerland. Of course, these train rides were short, but most interesting. The Canadian Pacific gave our party a real treat. We ate in the diner for breakfast, and rode in the glass-top observation coach. Oh, how beautiful western Canada is from an observation coach.

All in all, I know the railroads of the world have had a major part in what we see today in every nation. I, for one, truly love the greatness of the world rail system.

George W. Kendall
Amarillo, Texas

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.