Freight Trains At Night

After almost two weeks away, I can't help but wonder what my super loud neighbors back in Los Angeles have been up to. Their nighttime revelries echoing through the darkness are such a constant in my life there. And it is not till the depth of night, well after midnight, that it is finally quiet in my neighborhood.

But here in the flatness of the Midwest, instead of hipster parties, the sound of trains can be heard all night long. The tracks are a few miles away but the rumble of steel wheels against them is so loud, its almost as if the train is right next to my window.

For some people, the trains are literally right next door. If it's loud for me, I wonder how loud it is for these folks living in these houses?

Do their kids ever get a good night's sleep? Or do their teachers send home notes complaining, "Andre fell asleep in math class today. Can you make sure he gets enough rest to be able to stay awake?"

Then again, maybe over time the rumble of the trains just becomes barely noticeable background noise.

I used to have a friend whose second floor apartment was right next to some El tracks. When the train went by, we'd have to stop our conversations because we couldn't hear each other without shouting. Instead we'd sit there, watching the pictures on her walls rattle. The times I crashed at her place, I never slept. However she always slept through the night because she'd gotten used to the sound. She sometimes said her very inexpensive rent made getting used to the train's noise worthwhile.

I suppose our ability to acclimate to even the strangest, noisiest circumstances is why most nights I barely notice my loud LA neighbors. It really takes some out-of-the-box partying on their part for me to even glance out the window.

As annoying as my neighbors sometimes are, I think I'll take them over the sound of these freight trains.


Anonymous said…
I love the sound of trains and think they are such a romantic mode of transport. On the other hand, shunting freights right next door, or an el running past my window would be a bit much to take.
Mes Deux Cents said…

For me it's the unnecessary noise that drives me crazy.Someones booming car stereo drives me crazy, a neighbors unbelievably loud TV drives me crazy. Those things are totally unnecessary.

Where I live now I can hear Amtrak trains blowing their horns as they leave the station. I love the sound.

So on this one I'll def take the sound of trains over loud neighbors.
nick said…
As a kid, I lived next to a railway line for 18 years. It's true that you soon get used to the background noise and don't even register it any more. But if you're in a strange place, even the tiniest background noises can be disturbing because your brain isn't used to them.
Anonymous said…
It depends on what you are used to. I grew up near the Chicago Northwestern tracks outside Peoria, Illinois. To this day, half a century later, the sound of trains are a comfort noise in the night. Like the clanking of steam radiators in the cold hours before dawn.
Liz Dwyer said…
I used to have absolutely terrible nightmares about freight trains. Not so much anymore though, and I'd love to take one cross country someday.

The booming car stereos are REALLY annoying and I swear it's not just because I'm old! I'd take the sound of trains over that, too!

The funny thing is that tonight I don't notice the trains as much as I did last night. Maybe I'm getting used to it pretty quickly!

One time when I was a little girl, there was a power outage in the middle of a hot July night. I remember being in my room with only a candle for light, sweating because it was so hot, and the sound of the trains was indeed a comfort to me. The whole scene is one of my most vivid childhood memories.
Unknown said…
LOVE your new pre-comment paragraph!
Funny post - the last 3 yrs Ive had the L & Metra run day and night literally over my head. NICE.

NOW I know why the agent only let me stay 5 minutes before he was hurrying to his next appointment!

I don't even hear it anymore - It is the Mid-West isnt it, LOL.

I do have visions of being really old and really LOUD - "Whats that honey??"
Malik Akbar said…
My mom's house is right next to the railroad tracks, and on top of that, there used to be an active granite quarry in the neighborhood when I was a kid. After a while, the blast of the train horns and the minor tremors from the dynamite blasts just became background noise, like you said. We didn't pay any more attention to it than you pay to crickets or the wind blowing.

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