Railroad Stories: Old Railroad Tracks Served as Playground

I grew up in a very small town in northern Iowa. The farmers put in the Short Railroad line to get their plant and animal products to the market. Six days a week, the train went east in the morning, and west in the afternoon – and those old railroad tracks were quite popular with us children.

In the spring and summer months, the main track and the switch track became our game station. Pump, pump, pull away and Red light – Green light were only a couple of games we played. Sometimes, in the spring, we would just walk along the tracks and admire the blooming flowers.

As we got older, the tracks made first and third bases for a softball game. The cinders between the tracks were hard on the softball, and on bare feet, if you didn’t want to run home to get your shoes.

On Sundays, when the train didn’t run, we would push the section car, “Dumpy,” onto the tracks. Then we would push it and jump on. We’d have to keep doing this all the way to the bulkhead, where we picked cowslips and looked for Indian heads on a nearby hill.

It was great growing up in a little town. We had so much freedom and our own little playground.

Iona Burlile
Norwalk, Calif.

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.