Lesson learned: Don't play on the train tracks.

For the past few months, I have been pinning family photos for a recent family photo shoot with local photographer Kris Allan. We've done the beach pictures before and I wanted to try something different.
I fell in love with these pictures taken on train tracks. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the vintage feel of a railroad or the cool industrial aspects or the rugged patina of the equipment, regardless, I knew I wanted to take some pictures on some train tracks.
And why not? Train tracks are everywhere around here since our area has one of the largest container ports in North America.
I thought I did my homework by checking the train schedule of the local train station we were using on a Sunday afternoon. To the best of my knowledge, the train station was closed on the weekends. However, we later found out that just because the station is closed, it does not mean that the tracks are closed to all through traffic.
My husband, Mr. Safety, even thought that if a train was coming through town, it by law had to slow down to 30-40 mph as it passed. Slow enough that we would have enough time to react and move if a train was coming.
We quickly learned that we were both wrong.
We had a fun photo session on the tracks by the station, blissfully ignorant of any harm that may come our way in the form of a speeding train. The kids ran up and down the tracks, as a family we precariously balanced on the rails and we even set up vintage suitcases as props to sit on.
We finished taking pictures at that particular area and moved on to another location. While I love all things vintage, I also love anything brick and old. We found a brick building near the train tracks that was the perfect backdrop for individual pictures of the kids.
While Aidan was busy getting his picture taken, Owen our eternal curious daredevil found his way past the guardrail and up on the train tracks again. Owen is only 6 and he loves to look at how things work and how things are made. He was peeking around at the bolts in the rails as I tried to watch him and his older brother getting pictures taken and watch for cars on the small alley way road that ran between the tracks and the building.
I had just told Owen that I was thinking he should be getting down from the tracks and was starting to rethink the idea of him being on the tracks even if the trains weren't working on the weekends. Just as he was slowly starting to make his way off the tracks a man with a large dog walked over and approached us. He asked if that was my son and told me that he needed to get off of the tracks. The man told us he worked for the train and was in charge of that stretch of track and told us that as we spoke a train was heading our way.
We looked down the track and saw a headlight about a mile down the very same track that my son had just been balancing on. The railroad crossing arms were just then starting to ding and come down to close that portion of the road off.
He told us that the train was coming at around 70 mph and that just two days earlier there had been a fatality on these very tracks.
In our ignorance, we thought that there would surely be a sign that a train was coming. The tracks would start to shake, the horn would blare, we would hear that little chug chug chugging down the way, but the reality was there was none of that. We heard nothing until the train was blasting past us mere feet away.
We thanked the man and he walked away.
It didn't sink in until later that evening (1:15 am to be exact as I tossed and turned and was unable to sleep or think about anything else) how dangerous the whole situation really was. As a parent, my job is to make good choices for my family. To protect my children and to set a good example for them. I did none of these things all in an attempt to get a good family picture.
I realized later that the man who came wandering down with his dog was nothing short of an angel sent from God as a protection for my family. That the situation on the train tracks could have ended so much differently. That our family could have been changed forever because of my selfish nature.
I'm using this situation as a learning experience. I've apologized to the kids for my poor choices and lack of judgement and I am making sure that through our experience that someone else may become more aware to the dangers of the rails. A picture isn't worth it. Your family is.


Sarah said...

That's pretty scary! Glad everyone was okay.

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad you're safe. Thank you for this reminder. My husband's uncle works for the railroad. Train/pedestrian accidents are horrible, horrible situations.

markp said...

anytime is train time

Michelle@ourwonderfilledlife.com said...

Rachel, such a sobering reminder and so thankful you are all ok. I see all the pictures you do and it's just scary knowing no one is safe taking them. Hugs to you all!!

Anonymous said...

oh my!! thats a bit scary.. Glad.. all of you are safe..

Saying that.. the pics are supre impressive..

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