Monday, November 28, 2011


Dakotas —
stitched earth

The train traveled that night
through upper North Dakota, parallel to the
border of Canada and through some of the coldest
areas in all America. Towns like Minot and Rugby,
and Rugby just happens to be the geographical center
of North America but we are not awake for it. I
remember how we hurled through this part of the
country long ago from the other direction and we saw
it all in the daylight of morning and part of the
afternoon. Back then the train had a "dome car"
which was a coach with a second level where people
could sit and look out, and if I'm not mistaken all the
sides and roof were rounded in glass. At least I have
this memory of sitting up there late one night
watching the stars peeking in and out as the train
smoked through tall forests of the Cascades. The day
we traveled through North Dakota in the dome car,
Susan and I might have sat up there all day, or we
might have divided our time between there and a
Dutch doorway where we would linger to enjoy the breeze.
But I do remember sitting up in the dome car while a young
Amish couple, sweet and trim in suspenders and short hair,
a full skirt for the young lady, made out passionately.
It was a wonderful way to go, as pronghorn antelope
startled on the prairie at the chase of the train.

~ Bob Arnold, from American Train Letters
(Coyote Books, 1995)

photo © bob arnold

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