At the start of April, while in Fremont, I lay there awake next to my wife in a double bed at my parent’s house. Our son was asleep in the next room after a long day of playing with Grams. Sleep had come to him quickly after another reading of one of the Little Golden Books I had enjoyed as a child. My mind wandered from the day’s egg hunt to our trip home on Saturday. In the distance a train horn wailed.

Staring up at the ceiling, I pondered where it was coming from. It sounded as if it came from the left side of the room. Perhaps from the east over the old Chicago and North Western line now run by Union Pacific. Twenty seconds later I heard it again but this time it was promptly followed by another, higher toned horn from the west. It was as if the first train’s wail was answered.

The two trains seemingly called out for each other over the next few minutes, like two loons calling for each other across a tranquil lake. Just like the wail of the loon, I found the train horns peaceful and relaxing. I would drift in and out of sleep that night, each time waking up, lying there for a few  short moments as another train went through town.

Peaceful? Relaxing? Loon calls? For those that live within a half mile of train tracks the beauty I found that night would be classified as a grave annoyance. Place yourself halfway across town, about a mile away, the horns are no more as loud as an orchestra of frogs or crickets during a summer’s night–yes, I do live by a lake.

Though an annoyance to many, and yet so common to others that they no longer register in their minds, they are music to my ears as I rarely hear them near my current home (near a lake in Minnesota). The horns are a permanent fixture in the ambiance of Fremont, where the chance to see a train is a dime a dozen. Situated along the Union Pacific’s transcontinental route, there seems to be one every fifteen minutes as evidenced in my final two videos from my Nebraska trip.

The video below showcases three trains we caught on the main line, plus a switching job, all captured within an hour–and those were just the ones I set up the camera for.

At the beginning, you can hear Grant comment about the signal bells, which are electronic and not like the ones heard earlier at the two BNSF crossings. Near the end of the video, Grant and I joke about how an empty westbound coal train had left our view and seems to reappear a minute later going eastbound filled.

The video below was caught near the Lon D. Wright Power Plant on Luther Road. We had gone to the park in hopes that as we were flying a kite a train would come by for my son to see. Sure enough, within 5 minutes I spotted one down the track and was able to get him over by the fence to see it. In the video you can see the white light emitted from the peep holes on the side of the flashers. These signal to the engineer that the warning signal is operating properly.

I love these and other videos I have found on YouTube because with any regular computer speaker system (even my decade old Altec-Lansing sub woofer) will not only allow me to hear, but also feel the rumble of a diesel in my feet and chest. I believe a great train video has the horn, signal bells, and rumble of the engine as well as the clickety-clack of the wheels.

I’ll try to outfit my Flip camera with a wind guard next time. Perhaps I’ll also record some night trains from my parent’s back yard so I may listen to them back home.

About Chad Leigh Kluck

Originally from Nebraska, I am a history and railroad enthusiast currently living near Saint Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy trains, photography, and nostalgic memories, as well as the history of transportation, agriculture, eateries, breweries, and railroad towns. More...

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