We interrupt this wedding to bring you a freight train

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Monday, September 20, 2010

Unlike many guys, I love weddings. I love the gaiety, the food, the drink, the pretty young women dressed to the nines, the dancing. So when we spot a wedding party leaving our hotel in New Orleans for the ceremony this past weekend, it brings to mind a scene I came upon exactly four years ago in Southside Virginia. I’d like to share the moment with you.

I’m chasing trains along the CSX North End Subdivision, between Richmond, Va., and Rocky Mount, N.C., part of the so-called A Line between Washington, D.C., and Miami. At dusk I watch Amtrak’s Auto Train accelerate beneath me at South Collier, Va., some 35 miles south of Richmond, on a perfect end-of-summer evening. Then I walk to my car and head south as well.

Nine miles from Collier is Carson, one of those picture-perfect Virginia villages. As I drive into Carson, about five minutes behind the Auto Train, the CSX crossing gates begin going down. And what is this I see? A group of mostly young people walking from the parking lot of the Carson Library toward a mansion on the other side of the tracks.

Then I spot the woman in the white dress holding the bouquet in her hand, and even I can figure this out. I skid to a stop, jump out (hard to do at my age), grab my camera off the back seat and start shooting. Pretty women and freight trains — beat that combination, please.

The next week, back at work in Washington, my curiousity gets the better of me. I call the Bank of Carson, just across the tracks, and the woman who answers the phone tells me what I didn’t know. In the photo, that’s Amy Rainey, the former Amy Reese, on her way to her wedding reception just across the track.… That is, if train L450 will ever get out of her way. By the looks of the faces of this bridal party, nobody minds the distraction. — Fred W. Frailey

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