Sunday, October 18, 2009

Riding on a Rail ...

Back in 1900, a man named Robert Vaughn compiled a book called Then and Now, or, Thirty Six Years in the Rockies. The volume is a collection of letters and essays describing life in late nineteenth-century Montana ... lots of nostalgia for the vanishing frontier, and lots of politically-incorrect tales of Cowboys and Indians. It's an uneven but entertaining read.

Todays quote is an except from the book, part of an essay by Vaughn extolling the joys of turn-of-the-century travel on the Great Northern Railway... so much more comfortable than a horse and saddle!
Think of the perils, hardships and delays the traveler encountered "then" and the comforts and accommodations he is having "now." "Then" for protection against hostile Indians he had to equip himself with gun and ammunition, "now" for comfort and pleasure he equips himself with Havana cigars, daily newspapers and magazines. And he sings:

Riding o'er the mountains in a buffet car,
Writing loving letters, not a shake or jar;
Leaping over rivers, flying down the vale;
"O bless one, ain't it pleasant riding on a rail."

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