Ghost Train

May 5, 2017 § 1 Comment

Down in the bowels of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky International Airport (or CVG, as all but the untraveled call it), there’s a vast stretch of hallway that connects Terminal 3 with Concourse B.

You can take the robo-tram and skip the entire length of it, or the moving walkways and breeze past it at a more leisurely pace. Or you can do what I did if you have the time, and walk the entire way.

I recommend the latter, particularly because the Cincinnati Museum Center has loaned the airport a number of exhibits. 

The hallway leading to Concourse B is a sort of timeline of long-distance mass transit, told in incredibly detailed models assembled by people with far steadier hands than me.

It begins with riverboats, transitions to flatboats, then jumps to trains. So it’s not chronological (shut up, I said it was sort of a timeline) but it is still a reminder of how travel has changed over the years. How getting places has gotten gradually faster.

We are a migratory species, always itching to go somewhere. Some of us were so burdened by the need to travel that they slapped a few bits of wood together and pushed off down the Mississippi, Huck Finn-style.

Others preferred more luxurious bits of wood, with paddle wheels and casinos. Or fancy wagons of steel and wood, pulled by great, soot-belching iron horses.

When all else failed, some went by foot.

We traveled with measured steps back then. The world passed by slowly and so close, we could stare at it, examine it, taste and smell and feel the air of it. Think about the land we were passing, and our place in it.

Now we scream over it at such great heights, the land is reduced to a patchwork quilt. As Louis CK quipped, we read a magazine and take a dump and we’re home.

I think we’ve lost something, as a result. We’re a frenzy of ants whose nest has been kicked open, scrabbling too quickly to get somewhere that we don’t connect with the world around us. We cross over the world, not through it.

I liked the train model below enough to stop and take a photo. Looking at it later, I thought for a moment that I could see through the train; clearly, there was a man walking behind the model.

Because I’m not completely senile yet, I quickly realized it was an optical illusion — a reflection on the glass of the right side of the hallway,  aligned with the real image of the left side.

So not the model of a ghost train; just the ghost of travels past.


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