For many, there is a fascination with watching a long freight train rumble past; the assortment of gigantic cars, each carrying tons of goods, the mammoth engines capable of pulling many of those cars at one time, the distinct sounds of the train's whistle and the clanging of steel wheels on steel track, and the endless ribbon of rails that wind through mostly isolated areas.

The enjoyment of trains encompasses generations, not only through marveling at the real thing, but with setups of various gauges of models in basements and garages, and the rising popularity of related children's products.

The rails are something in which America should be making a continued investment.

As the cost of gasoline rises and the threat of gas shortages always hovering, trains are one way to reduce some usage.

Also, as more and more vehicles congest outdated highways, it's safer and more economical to have goods transported by long distance via the rails. At one time, virtually all automobiles were shipped to local regions by train.

Certainly rails have to be credited with helping in the boom of the coal industry. Just ask anyone knowlegable of the Switchback's history.

Most of us are too young to remember when residents of Carbon County used to travel by train to shop in Allentown and even Philadelphia and New York. Those days probably will never return, but certainly improving rails to take commuters into New York or down to Philadelphia makes a lot of sense, taking not only additional vehicles off the road but weary drivers as well.

America should invest in railroad improvements. Corporations should be encouraged to utilize the rails.

There's no getting around the hauling of dangerous chemicals or toxic waste, but better to have them on train cars than hauled down are most congested streets on trucks.

We often see oversize loads trying to meander the narrow streets in our area. How much more convenient for such goods to be carried on railroad cars.

Definitely the improvement of the rails should be a priority for our nation. There are safety consideration, ecological arguments, potential economic development, and even the possibility of helping the employment situation.

Just as the rails helped develop the West many years ago, they could be utilized to help rebuild our nation today.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]