Railroads hobby for Assumption man
ASSUMPTION – Perspiring freely while dressed in the close-fitting uniform of a late railroad conductor who had conducted his last train back in 1969, Doug Swift is busy shunting his audience into the past.
He spoke recently at the headquarters of the Assumption Historical Society, and it was clear that the heating system was bent on working up a good head of steam. Swift, however, was not so easily diverted from his task: He lives, eats and breathes the history of the railroads that shaped Central Illinois and, with pauses to dab at his streaming face, the iron horse of his narrative plowed on.
He talked of such railroads as the Gulf Mobile & Ohio, the Illinois Terminal, the Wabash and many more, describing a network of trains that moved people around in the days before anyone had coupled “auto” and “mobile” into one noun that would derail the train world. If video killed the radio star, it’s pretty clear America’s all-conquering automobile culture switched train passenger service onto a very secondary siding.
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