The Rock Island Line

Here’s another stab at Leadbelly’s Rock Island Line

Pictured to the left is the NYC Transit Authority Lexington Avenue #2 train which, unlike the Rock Island Line, does not carry any pigs, cows or livestock. The #2 train just carries tired working people from the Bronx to Manhattan, and then back home again. And thousands of them! Packed in like the proverbial sardines. Through grimy subway tunnels and up onto elevated train trestles. Tired commuters. Now, just how and why a Jewish kid from the Bronx becomes enamored of the Rock Island Line and becomes invested in the mythology of the American railroad is a good question. Perhaps it has something to do with the clickity-clack of the #2 Lexington Avenue line. On a visceral level I miss riding the trains. Certainly these old folksongs still hold a sway on my imagination. And perhaps yours as well.

10 thoughts on “The Rock Island Line

  1. Why do they call it a mighty good “road” when it’s clearly a rail?
    I like trains quite a bit, too. Having never lived in a city with decent rail (I lived in LA, which has rail now, although the project was incomplete when I last lived there), I’ve only ridden them in cities as a tourist.
    I’ve spent quite a bit of time on long-distance trains, both here and in Europe. Such a great way to travel. Plus, Amtrak has sort of an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t smell” policy with regard to cannabis, which is rather nice.

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