Tuesday, March 30, 2010

pacific northwest reader countdown #2

[i suppose for it to be an actual countdown it needs to do two things:

1. count down to an actual, set date

2. count down

but i'm ok with doing things backwards.]

Alright, I wanted to include an image of a train to go along with this very vivid paragraph from Melanie Colletti's essay in the Pacific Northwest Reader, but today Blogger won't let me upload any photos. Ah well, Melanie's beautiful description is more than enough to put that train in your head.

So here, to give you a second taste of the Pacific Northwest Reader is an excerpt from "Alaska Steam."

"Number 73 was alive, breathing smoke, spewing steam, plodding diligently up the steep grade of the pass. The engineer tended to her every whim, gently adjusting gauges, constantly alert. The history of the cars, the engines, and the route itself, was overwhelming. It seemed impossible to absorb it all but I tried, even riding on my days off. I can put myself there, in the first few miles of tracks, whenever I like. I hear the whistling of metal on metal when the cars come around a bend, the rattle of the wheels over seams in the track, the fluctuations in the tone of the engine as we accelerate or slow down. From the deciduous trees along the river next to the tracks, to the famous cantilever bridge and tunnels, to the perfectly placed pick-axes and horse skulls near the summit, I can remember nearly every inch of track, and the way the flowers and clouds looked depending on the season. I couldn’t imagine what the pass would have been like before the construction of the railroad. And to be honest, I didn’t want to. The tracks and the trains seemed to belong there."

Melanie Colletti is a librarian at the Denver Public Library’s Community Technology Center, but she continues to daydream about Skagway and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad.

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