I’m thinking that many youngsters asked “Where does old sound go?” at one time or other. That’s not what the title of this post is asking. I’ve got my own answers to that question. but first let me explain what I’m talking about.
First I’ll set the scene. I was kayaking on the Potapsco River above he Daniels Dam, see other posts about the this popular kayaking scene. This is part of the Potapsco State Park. A single railroad track follows the river for many miles. I’d call it the B&O between Baltimore and Frederick, Md. But today it is now the CSX. The river meanders but the rail line takes a more direct route, crossing the river or taking a shortcut through tunnels. At times it is far enough from the river that one doesn’t hear it.
I unloaded my boat at the only launch site above the Daniels Dam, the launch site was doing double duty today. It’s a small deposit of sand that also makes a small beach for sunbathers. A couple hundred feet upstream there are a couple of trees hanging over the river with ropes hanging from branches. You guessed it, there were kids of all ages using the trees to swing out and drop into the river. hey were keeping cool in the water and having a great time having fun.
Upstream from that it was quieter than usual, hot with almost no breeze. I didn’t see much wildlife today, only a couple Canada Geese and one Great Blue Heron. I passed the heron on the way upstream, and again as I drifted downstream, it was still there. It was so hot that it didn’t fly off as usual, just stood there and watched me paddle by.
Now to the real question.So what sound am I talking about? As I was drifting downstream a train blew its horn as it entered a tunnel about a mile away. I grew up in a small village a few miles west of Baltimore, not close to tracks, but near enough to be familiar with the sounds of the old stream engines. Once or twice a year I head up to the Strasburg Rail Road – Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to take photos or bicycle in Amish country. So I get to hear some good old steam whistles. On another occasion I was in Russel, Ks. and heard the sound of a train out on the prairie, but that was a Diesel, or Diesel-Electric. But definitely not a good sounding Steam Whistle.
Now here’s the question! Why does the sound of the modern railroad horns, or should they be called whistles, sound so different from the horns on old steam engines? There must be a good explanation. What’s your theory?