The Old Ocean Shore Railroad: A Poem
Ocean Shore RR Engine #6
That Old Ocean Shore
Way back when, before my time, there roared a train.
Steam trains, then they were, belching great black gouts of smoke.
Big ideas, influential people dreamed it up:
A scenic ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and back.
And so they started, laying tracks, out toward the southern end of town.
And through the City, they would roll, sometimes sharing other tracks.
Beyond the City Line they chugged, and up the hill and toward the shore.
Cresting the hill, reaching the bluff, and here their troubles began.
The sandy cliffs and dunes not friendly to monster machines.
Mother Nature had other ideas, and landslides were a plague.
But on they pushed, and persevered, building along the cliffs,
or blasting tunnels through the rock.
What a wild and scary ride!
One-way tracks, down and back: no room for two abreast.
To finish faster, they thought it smart to start both ends at once.
So from Santa Cruz they also built hoping to meet in the middle,
Echoing the grand meeting of the transcontinental tracks.
Alas, 'twas not to be: the ends ne’er did meet;
(The gap bridged by an omnibus.)
But still the travelers came, and rode to play by the sea.
Landslides, earthquakes, though, all played their part.
Then the ‘big one’ in 1906 buckled the tracks
and did it in.
Oh, they tried to resurrect it several times,
but the writing was already writ.
More cars, more roads, more weather woes..
by 19 and 12, the tracks were ripped up,
gone; leaving only the roadbed scar.
Still it perches in spots on the cliff, and you can walk
where the trains once ran.
And sometimes, in the still of night
when the fog creeps in, and the moon is dark
If you listen closely, you can still hear
The echo of that long ago
An attempt to recover from memory an older poem I cannot find in my papers. :-(
© 2010 Liz Elias