On the surface, a train ride doesn’t seem an appropriate backdrop for a romantic story. Yet one of the yarns in Old Time Railroad Stories tells of a romance between a beau and his intended. And while it may have been a fictional account, I can assure you that romance does take place on the railroad.
I know because several years ago I worked as a redcap for Amtrak in Kansas City. At 11:30 each night train number 3, the Chicago to Los Angeles Southwestern Chief, made a twenty minute stop in KC. My job was to take the boarding passengers’ carry-on baggage to the train and make sure it was placed in the correct car.
On one particular evening, about an hour before train time, a large wedding party came into the station. This was something I had never seen before. The newlyweds had first class accomodation tickets to LA. I took their carry-ons and when the train arrived I put the pieces in their assigned room. On my next trip back to the waiting area, the best man handed me a bottle of champaign and asked it I could place it in the newlyweds’ room. I said that I could and for that he handed me a generous tip. I placed the bottle in the room and stood on the platform as the bride and groom boarded the train.
The conductor was standing next to me and gave me a wink and a nod as the couple boarded. “Not a bad idea,” he said. “Thirty-three hours to LA, locked in their private honeymoon suite, and no one to bother them.”
“Don’t you think you had better get their ticket first thing, as soon as the train leaves?” I asked, “I mean, they may be–you know–occupied before too long.”
“Yep,” he answered with a chuckle. “Timing is everything in this kind of deal.”
A few minutes later the train pulled out. And a 33-hour honeymoon ride had just begun. I imagine the conductor collected their tickets before the train cleared the station tracks.