The Railroad Crossing From Hell
For a while my family lived in a small town named East Carondelet, Illinois. We lived in a little farmhouse several miles out of town, and we had to drive on a scary levee road just to get to town. But even then there wasn’t a whole lot to do. If we wanted to go to the post office or the gas station, we had to go to nearby Dupo. And if we wanted to go to Walmart, Pizza Hut or Schnucks grocery store, we had to go all the way to Cahokia. But before we went to Dupo, Cahokia, St. Louis or anywhere else, we had to cross the railroad tracks from hell.
On the western edge of Dupo lay a large train yard. The train yard intersected the road into East Carondelet, so you had to cross over a half-dozen sets of tracks every time you wanted to go in or out of town. This was bad enough, but remember that this was a train yard, not just a simple railroad crossing. This meant that the trains would stop in the middle of the crossing. They would go back and forth picking up extra cars. This meant a train could block the railroad crossing for up to an hour, with no good way to get around.
This wasn’t the worst part, however. What really made this the railroad crossing from hell was the gap in the middle. You see, there were several sets of tracks to cross: first you went over 5 tracks, then under a viaduct, than over a third set of tracks. This made a sort-of trap, with trains blocking the road in both directions. This didn’t happen very often, but when it did, it was a nightmare. I remember one night in particular. It was Halloween, and my mom took my sister and me to Dupo for some trick-or-treating. On the way back, we got stuck between the trains. My mom’s car didn’t have a heater, and it was getting cold. It was a most unpleasant hour, especially since as a kid, it seemed like much longer.
I’ve been caught by trains many times since my time in East Carondelet, but nothing compares to the railroad crossing from hell.