The Livelong Line

The old tracks running through Livelong and beyond.
The old tracks running through Livelong and beyond.

Everyone in Livelong and the surrounding area knows where the tracks were. Some people remember the actual CNR railway tracks, which were ripped out in the early ‘80s. The land is still marked by the tracks – I regularly walk or jog down the old rail bed.

Edna Alford laid down the tracks in her short story “The Lineman,” found in her second short story collection titled The Garden of Eloise Loon:

Now they’re taking up the tracks. All up and down this country–not just mine, not only the Livelong Line. We’re not alone here. Figure they don’t need tracks no more, not ones you can see, at least. So they took them up. Even took down the trestles, took up the ties, everything, if you can believe. For what? Little piles of charred old ties marking mile after mile. It’s a wonder they didn’t send a truck up for the cinders.

I think most of us who’ve lived in rural communities can relate to Jack, the narrator of this story. We’ve all seen tracks ripped up and elevators closed down within our lifetimes. These local events tie into larger forces that are beyond our control. Sometimes the only choice we have is in how we choose to react.

But the interesting thing to me is that even thirty years after this line has been ripped from the ground, you can still see it on the ground and through Google satellite. People still talk about it and walk and quad partway down the line. It hasn’t really disappeared at all.

Read this book!
Read this book!