Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Street Running

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Last June, we took a two-day trip to our neighboring state of Iowa. We spent the first day photographing farms in the Dubuque area, which were on the Iowa Barn Foundation’s spring tour. The area along the Mississippi River is one of our favorite places to photograph, with its rolling hills and verdant valleys. We started our second day in the St. Donatus area, which we will cover in a future blog post.

After spending the entire morning near St. Donatus, we headed to the beautiful small town of Bellevue, which is situated along the Mississippi River. The main reason for our visit there was to capture some photos of the railroad tracks that run down the center of the street, with one lane of traffic on each side of the tracks.

After locating the tracks and a place with historic buildings to add to the ambiance of the photos, I parked the car alongside the tracks and took my equipment out of the car. It had been raining on and off for the past hour and a big black cloud loomed overhead.

After hurrying to capture several photos of the tracks, I began to focus on a large two-story limestone building that was on the corner near where we had parked. It was a beautiful building with large doors on the front of both floors of the building.

Beside the building, near the corner, was a stop sign and railroad crossing sign. A smaller sign at the bottom of the stop sign said, “STOP – LOOK – LISTEN – BEWARE OF TRAINS.”

On the side of the building opposite the corner, there were two attached buildings that were both very interesting. The largest one was sided with pressed tin and the smaller one was tile. I only wish I could figure out the purpose of each of these buildings from long ago.

As I stood there wondering about these buildings, I heard a train whistle in the distance. So, I turned my tripod around and hurried to point my camera lens down the tracks. The train was moving very quickly.

As the train approached the corner where I was standing, the engineer blew the whistle, which was ear-splitting. And the train was moving so quickly that I only had time to capture two photos of the diesel engine.

As Ruth sat in the car and I stood beside the tracks, the ground shook and the wheels bumped, squeaked, and squealed along the tracks. We should have counted the freight cars because they continued to pass by us for a very long time.

At the time, I didn’t know what the term was for this type of railroad track. So, I needed to do a little research before writing this blog. According to Wikipedia, “On-street running or street running is the routing of a railroad track or tramway track running directly along public streets, without any grade separation. The rails are embedded in the roadway, and the train shares the street with pedestrians and automobile traffic.”

As I reviewed my photos to put together this blog post, I lamented the fact that I didn’t take a short video of this interesting experience. And then Ruth reminded me that I didn’t do that because I was too busy plugging my ears to avoid hearing loss. My hearing is one of my most precious possessions, so I guess it’s okay that I ended up with my hearing intact rather than a video!

Happy Shunpiking!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!


  1. Interesting! And I really love that first photo of the St. Donatus Countryside!

    1. Thanks, Phyllis! St. Donatus is so historic and beautiful. I think I might blog about that next.

  2. Joann,
    Wonderful picture and story. It reminds me of a similar layout and historical town in CO (I think it was Julesburg). Can't wait to see more about St. Donatus. We visited the town, church and cemetery last year.
    John (and Jean)

    1. Thanks, John and Jean! St. Donatus is so lovely. I hope you had time to hike up the hill past the Stations of the Cross to the stone chapel on top of the hill. So beautiful, peaceful, historical, and sacred.

  3. What a cool-looking town. Marvelous Pictures! :)