Remembering old Days of Strength

The days long past - those were days of strength.  The winds blew the grasses of Montana plains and hot winds raced down the rain shadows of the Rockies in those days.  Overhead the skies were blue to the horizons or clouded over with the power of racing summer storms.  Between the heavens and the earth were the unbroken wires that made America's last Transcontinental Railroad unique in the lexicon of US transportation.

The hum of traction motors could be heard rolling tonnage west to the Continental Divide in those days.  Alongside the Northern Pacific and the Jefferson River it chased the grade laid out for it decades before.  These were days of strength: days when steel wheels rolled over the steel rails and the thought of weakness awaiting at the door seemed like something impossible.  How could the end of strength come?  How could the overhead power that supplied 5000Hp Little Joes ever grow cold?  How could a Thunderhawk no longer run, nor the hum of electric motors and blow of cooling fans ever cease?  But those were old days of strength and for everything and for each of us, it seems they are but a breath.

Rolling into Sappington (above) the Milwaukee is 1462 miles from Chicago. As the old bridge that spans the right of way clearly shows, she is under wire.  Here are the vestiges of strength in a system designed not to fail.  Designed to be better than the others, to go farther, and to achieve more.  Like a runner trained for a race, the remains still show an athlete ready to run the gauntlet.

And like an athlete, the days of strength are fleeting.  I sit as I write this in a hospital bed and remember the days of youth when, not long ago it seems, I awoke with the sun and could rely on my own strength to achieve the goals of the day.  I did not hurt, I did not stumble, and I was not thoughtful that those were days that would be fleeting.  Now I gaze upon the relics of the past that loom large in these photos and haunt my mind and ponder how days change so swiftly.  The sun rises one morning, and on that very day, everything changes in an instant.

But be of good courage dear reader, it is better to know of our weakness so that the we may seek where real and lasting Strength come from.  The Lord can and will sustain you with real Strength and real Courage even when days of strength close.  Now, I think I appreciate those days of old even more, and appreciate the gift of walking through them even as I look back and wonder at how even the mighty have fallen.


oamundsen@aolcom said…
Leland, thank you for another beautiful piece of writing and enduring thoughts. At just this past moment, I was reflecting on my memories of my railroad, the NYNH&H whose 4 track main I grew up with and whose wonderful named trains I rode never thinking that they would not be around forever. I was speaking with a man of my age,77, this morning and he said he is in wonder of how he learns something new every day about life. A mystery seeming to reveal more and more of itself to us as we age. I wish that your sufferings be eased, your way smooth and all your signals green. Ole
SDP45 said…
Hard to hear that your situation isn't where you want it. Please continue to post and write as you can.

Anonymous said…
Thanks Ole and Dan, I'm getting better again. Sometimes things just change fast ... but I'll take those high green signals Ole. Much appreciated to you both.
Evan Holland said…
Leland, your post is "spot-on" with where my thoughts have been lately. I was just recently considering the fading imprints of previous human efforts as I snowshoed along the abandoned roadbed of a bygone highway.

As I post this, I have just heard that a dear friend is in the hospital with potential heart issues. I myself am only a couple of months beyond having had medical procedures to prevent potential health disasters. While my own prognosis is considered excellent, I am aware of how close I was to something far more grim. Even so, I don't consider it "borrowed time", but rather an extension of Grace; a treasury of liveliness and time in which I can continue to pursue the Lord's purposes. I will not hold this knowledge, or the message of your own words carelessly. Thanks again for taking the time to journal these vital thoughts.
I'm very sorry to read that you are not feeling well. I hope that your health soon returns.

It's funny to read this now. Just this evening I was thinking that I really can feel the impact of age starting to come on, but I'm okay with it, so far.
LinesWest said…
I really like the idea of extension of Grace vs. borrowed time. That fits with a lot of my thoughts along these lines that instead of 'escaping' something it's a path to travel.

Again, thanks for the thoughts and comments all.
Mumtaz said…
I love to read your blog. said…
Leland, I hope that you are in improved health and regaining your strength. As a fellow in his late 70's, I certainly identify with your situation. Know that you have folks out here who wish you well.

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