I was too young to have ridden the excursion train to West Jefferson, NC. It would not be until much later in life that I learned that most of my ancestors hailed from that area thus the reason for the excursion. People were traveling to visit the family they left behind.
The train cars were often parked by the old train depot when not in use. Many of them were sleeper cars which I found fascinating. They were never locked and we spent many hours playing in those train cars as if they were toys. I can still close my eyes and see the old bunks which through my child’s eye looked like the most luxurious of exquisite hotel rooms.
We also put pennies or pop bottle lids on the tracks so the train would flatten them. That was until one day someone told us that such actions could derail the train. This seems entirely unlikely to me because of the weight and momentum of a train. Please hold while I engage Google. Seems the penny thing is an urban myth. I found no reference to pop bottle lids but I did not look very hard.
As children, we often had suckers (lollipops) tossed to us from the train. I have written about this before. It was a big deal to run down to the creek bank as the train went by in hopes of catching the cellophane-wrapped suckers they threw to the children. I recently read about how this started while visiting the museum in West Jefferson.
Anywhere we walked, we usually chose the railroad as the fastest path. We walked across cattle guards and learned to listen for the vibration indicating a train was en route. Crossing the trestle was always precarious for those (like me) who had a fear of heights.
I would not ride a train until my husband and I took the train from Switzerland to Venice. The Swiss train experience was totally different than our experience on the Italian trains. I was glad our travel agent advised us to buy first class passage on the Italian train. Otherwise, we would have likely been standing the entire trip from Milan to Venice.