Certain things just naturally give me the creeps: clowns, chimpanzees, Victorian dolls, my dad's collection of antique farm equipment. But I never fully considered the disturbing visual power of choo-choo trains until yesterday, when I drove my special ladyfriend Tammi Jo to Union, IL to tour the Illinois Railway Museum. As you are about to witness, it's a place where H.R. Giger meets Thomas the Tank Engine. So let me punch your ticket for an express trip on the Hell Unlimited.
If you dare.
Baking in the sun, the moaning cast iron of yesteryear.
Submitted for your approval: a carnival car. Imagine it creaking down the track bearing a load of sweaty clowns in dripping greasepaint.
Why the plywood? Was it for our safety, or theirs?
See the conductor for a berth on the Iowa ghost train.
You rock historians may recognize this long-gone Michigan passenger line as the one that gave Grand Funk Railroad its name.
And now for the morgue of decaying locomotives. I dare you to camp out here overnight.
In railroad vernacular, this spike atop the carriage truck is called the "Jesus pin" -- because when it breaks, it's the last word you'll hear.
Enjoy the passing Burma Shave signs -- while the friendly barber aboard sharpens his straight razor on the strop.
Lucky you! The train isn't crowded, so no wait in the dining car.
Then enjoy a stogie in mohair solitude.
It's getting late. Time to freshen up before bed.
Upper or lower bunk? It's your choice.
We should be there by morning, so nighty-night.
And pleasant dreams.
Complete set here
Slide show here