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Edition #188  December 15, 2012

Christmas Dome

Photographer: J. P. Bell

                                                                      Photo by J. P. Bell

Christmas Dome

A stainless steel dome car at night gleaming under a full moon speaks clearly of the romance of train travel.

The event in this photograph was the departure of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad passenger train from the Fort Smith Trolley Museum in downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas. The date was November 24, 2012, on a Saturday evening after Thanksgiving when children, parents, and grandparents packed out a Christmas train bound for Van Buren, Arkansas.

Seeing a dome car at night on the A&M brought back memories of my first ride across the Southwest on the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1950s. I was ten years old. It was near the holidays.  My family and I were traveling to California on the San Francisco Chief.  My world expanded exponentially on that trip as we passed through Kansas City, Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico.  Most of my time was spent in the dome car watching signal lights change from green to red and contemplating life in the desert towns we passed through the night. I was hooked on railroading and the western landscape.

Perhaps on this frosty fall evening in the Ozarks, a few of these kids will have that same genetic switch turned on that makes them love train travel for a lifetime.

J. P. Bell

Fort Smith, Arkansas

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Revised: 12/15/12 08:56:07 -0500