Those of you who are regular readers may remember this past April when I decided to go Tracking the Taft Tunnel in my neighboring town of Lisbon - the town that lays claim to the "first railroad tunnel in America". As I mentioned in my previous post -
"The Lisbon railroad tunnel, which is officially named the Taft Tunnel, was originally built by the Norwich and Worcester Railroad in 1837. There is some debate as to whether or not it's actually the very first railroad tunnel in America but it is most definitely the oldest railroad tunnel in America still in use in its original form as the tunnel and tracks are still used by the Providence and Worcester Railroad."
Ever since that first visit back in April, I'd been wanting to go back out to the tunnel and as yesterday was a beautiful autumn day with no rain in sight for a change, I decided it would be a good time to head back over. I wanted to see if maybe there was some good foliage to be found along the river near the tunnel and figured I didn't have too much more time before all the leaves were on the ground and the only foliage would be of the raking-and-bagging variety!
I parked by the side of Route 12, looked a little nervously at the "No Trespassing" sign, and after only a slight bit of hesitation began the short hike through the woods out to the railroad tracks. Once I got to the tracks I took a left and walked down to the tunnel, keeping an ear out for any approaching trains.
The tunnel looked pretty much like it did when I last saw it in April - which is probably also pretty much like it looked in 1837! The only difference was that there wasn't a lot of standing water at the north end of the tunnel like there was back in April which meant I could walk the 300 feet to the other end and get some pictures there.
With my friend Kevin's words of "you didn't walk all the way through last time because you were scared" ringing in my head - along with what I'm pretty sure was the sound of my heartbeat ringing through my ears - I started through the tunnel while all the time really, really, really hoping that a train wasn't going to pick that time to come down the tracks. Even though the tunnel is 23 feet wide, I didn't relish the thought of pressing myself against the side of the rock wall in abject terror while a train rumbled past.
As I got closer to the north end, the floor of the tunnel got mushier and some of the railroad ties were loose beneath my feet but I made it all the way through to the other side just in time to hear a rumbling that I knew was not coming from the river.
Oh good Lord, a train was coming! I quickly found a small area less than ten feet from the tracks that looked like the best place to be out of the way and sat down on a small rock just in time to see Engine 4001 come around the bend.
Now let me tell you, I like trains and I've taken more than a few pictures of them in the past but sitting less than 10 feet away from one by the side of the tracks is a bit - shall we say - disconcerting. If I'd thought my heart was beating in my ears earlier, that was nothing compared to the noise I was hearing now! Luckily I remembered to take a couple of pictures of the train entering the tunnel though I wasn't sure how well they were going to turn out as I felt like I was shaking so bad!
Finally the end of the train came into view - another engine moving backwards rather than a caboose as I guess trains just don't do cabooses anymore - or at least the Providence & Worcester trains don't seem to.
After the engine disappeared through the tunnel and the ground stopped shaking and the rumbling faded away, I shakily got to my feet and alternately thanked God many times over that I hadn't still been in the tunnel when the train came through while telling myself I was too old for this sort of thing! Still, I couldn't wait to tell Kevin the story later at work; he's a major railroad fan so I knew he'd appreciate the tale as well as maybe be a little jealous!
After taking a couple pictures of the north entry of the tunnel I began my trek back through to the other side a lot more relaxed than I was when I went through the first time as I was quite confident that another train wouldn't be coming through anytime soon. I didn't linger too long, though, just in case one of the engineers had spotted me by the side of the tracks and decided to call in some form of law enforcement. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to have come out of the woods and found a State Trooper waiting for me by my car but luckily that wasn't the case - whew!
As I sat in the car for a few moments before turning towards home, the blogger in me kicked in as I thought "This is going to make a great post! I hope the pictures came out okay!"
All in all, I'd have to say that yesterday's trip to the Taft Tunnel was quite the adventure but I honestly don't think I'm going to be doing that again anytime soon - no matter how pretty the foliage on the north side ended up being! Unless, of course someone else wants to go with me next time!