When I was a kid, the steam engines were well on their way of being replaced by the Diesel Electrics, but there were still some the steam engines around.
The Rock Island Line, and The Burlington Route still had a couple steamers in use. Me and my cousin used to go down to the Burlington tracks at night
and wait for the 9:30 to come rolling by. There was a small trestle over a creek and we used to sit along the creek bank and wait.. On a still, clear, cool fall
evening, you could hear her coming from miles away. That particular stretch of track was probably arrow straight for three or four miles, so you could see her
coming for quite a while. First, if the wind was still, you could hear the whistle as she approached the crossing out on Rt.2-92, then you could see the little
yellowish dot of the light as she rolled closer. Soon, you could hear the cadence of the steam cylinders, then the sounds of the connecting gear, and the sound
of the wheels on the rails. To us, it seemed like a heartbeat and the "One-eyed-black-monster" was upon us. Steam, steel, and the whistle all enveloped us in
a cacophony of noise, loud enough that you could feel it right down to your bones.. From our position, you could see the orange flames coming out of the bottom of the firebox, almost like the pulsing of the beasts orange hot heart. Almost as quickly as it had started, she had passed us by, leaving us to the rhythm of the
wheels as they passed over the joints in the rail. At the end of the train, the lighted caboose passed by, leaving us with a disappearing red light, and smell of
hot iron, oil, steel, and coal. Some things, you can never forget.