Ferrocarriles y Perros Debiles

There are a number of things I like about President Biden, most of them related to the fact that he is the polar opposite of the President-Who-Will-Go-Down-In-Infamy. There are few things I really like about him. One of those is his love for trains.

When I was a child, I rode a train from Montana to Georgia to see my grandmother. Memories from that age tend to come in flashes. I see images of lily ponds and backyards festooned with drying laundry. I remember it was a grand adventure. That adventure is no longer possible. The steel rails which criss-cross the United States, and indeed much of the world, look like this today, overgrown and abandoned. In the US, many routes have been torn up, the rails melted down, and the right-of-ways converted to hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling trails. Instead of efficient, affordable transportation and shipping routes, they are now playgrounds for those who have the time and money to play.


Here in Mexico, the railroads survived the onslaught of General Moters and their carbon-spewing bus and truck routes for a much longer time. Mexico and Mexicans simply weren’t rich enough to be that wasteful.

In the end, the demise of the railroads here, as far as I can tell, has been to the lack of maintenance, rather than deliberate replacement. Again, it is due to the scarcity of resources. According to the gentleman I met crossing the tracks as I was taking tourist photos, you could take a train from here to numerous destinations as recently as one or two decades ago.


Two decades ago, the communications revolution was just beginning. When I traveled, I bought a cheap cell phone wherever I went and had to hunt for internet cafes with bandwidth barely above dialup in order to post on my LiveJournal blog.

Now, we all carry the Library of Alexandria in our pockets, we make video calls around the world for free from the local coffee shop, and, in a few countries, there are functioning, state-of-the-art railroads. Sadly, in this hemisphere, what few trains we have are barely out of the 19th century.

I had hoped that Biden would have coattails in the Senate and House elections, enabling him to pursue a more ambitious agenda, including a real infrastructure plan with a full revitalization of our rail system rather than just a few billion bandaids.

Alas, it was not to be, so I will Just have to wait paitently and eternally hopeful like this railroad dog.