Train people are definitely strange

A quote from J. K. Huysman’s Against Nature:

Does there exist here below a being, conceived in the joys of fornication and born amid the pangs of childbirth, whose figure and whose form is more dazzling, more splendid than that of those two locomotives adopted by the Northern railway line?

One, the Crampton, is an adorable blonde with a shrill voice, her long delicate body imprisoned in a glittering corset of copper, as supple and sinewy as a stretching cat, a showy, gilded blonde whose extraordinary grace is frightening, when, stiffening her muscles of steel, beginning to sweat on her warm flanks, she sets in shuddering motion the immense rosette of her slender wheels and springs forward, eagerly, across hill and dale!

The other, the Engerth, is a dark and monumental brunette with a deep husky cry, her brawny loins constrained by a cast-iron girdle, a monstrous beast with a dishevelled mane of black smoke, and six low, coupled wheels, what a crushing force she has when, making the earth tremble, she slowly, ponderously pulls the heavy tail of her goods-wagons! ‘Certainly there’s nothing to match such delicate slenderness and terrifying force in the dainty beauty of the blonde and the majestic beauty of the brunette; one can surely say that man, in his own way, has done as well as the God in which he believes.

(From Helena Constantine’s MeWe page, which is not at all safe for work)

Seriously, dude, no one should get that hyperbolically erotic about anything that isn’t a spider, but you be you.


  1. nomdeplume says

    So, these engines were the resilt of a whirlwind in a junkyard…?

    But seriously PZ, the top one is a beautiful work of art (the lower one not so much).

  2. davidc1 says

    Really Doc ,i think it is a case of the pot ,calling the kettle black for you to call train lovers strange ,which they are .
    Nothing is as beautiful as the P47D Thunderbolt ,bubbletop of course .

  3. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out there is Le Train du Fromage, which, while not made of cheese, is all about cheese. And hot air balloons. There is also a Chocolate Train, which is not made of chocolate, but is all about chocolate. Both are Swiss. The equipment is boringly modern.

    There are, however, other trains which are made of chocolate (34-metre Model Train Made Entirely From Chocolate). The engine on that is an (unidentified in the link) olde style huffer-puffer, so one can be erotic about the chocolate, and/or the equipment, and/or the (probable) lack of spiders.

    She (the mildly deranged penguin) isn’t aware of any spider + train p0rn, but does point out spiders also like trains (e.g., ‘Nightmarish number of huge spiders’ are scaring SEPTA commuters at one train station).

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    don’t you talk about me that way! How dare you! I resemble that remark
    I love trains, steam locomotives in particular

  5. pacal says

    P. Z. if you haven’t read A rebours, (Against Nature – English translation.), do so!! In fact everyone should read it!!! It is without a doubt one of the strangest novel’s ever written and has one of the most eccentric heroes ever. (Des Esseintes). J. K. Huysmans’ novel, published in 1884, is amazingly weird and strangely fascinating. Written in a style that even in translation, (Into English for example), comes across has off kilter and quirky. Also some the chapters, like the one describing the décor of Des Esseintes new apartment, or his taste in Latin literature and climaxing, so to speak, in the chapter on Des Esseintes Love Life are frankly bizarre to the point of madness. And the book is short , barely over 200 pages.

    So if you’ve never heard of. Go read it!!!!

  6. says

    While I don’t find well functioning machinery, prurient or erotic, I do find it incredibly soothing. That opening sequence to Twin Peaks (the original) springs to mind. My dad was a millwright at a couple of saw mills, and those machines are loud as hell but there is a certain beauty to the manic precision they operate with. I’m working in food production and packaging these days and getting my machine to run as perfect as I can is just something I do every day now. So I get it when someone from those halcyon days of the industrial revolution waxes and laments that way.

  7. wzrd1 says

    Oddly, by coincidence, earlier tonight, I was watching an old steam locomotive being maintained while going from cold firebox, throughout its start of movement through a trainyard, then back to the building.
    So romantic, all of that wood and coal smoke inside of the building!
    Or was that asphyxiating…?

    @4, odd that nobody at SEPTA could figure out why spiders would place webs around lights, which attract flying insects. Totally unexpected, right?

  8. PaulBC says

    And when do the sexy locomotive costumes come out? (Too late for this Halloween I guess.) Not sure about that cast iron girdle, but different strokes…

  9. jrkrideau says

    I have always thought that people driving cars especially over long distances pretty strange people. Shut yourself in a little box it’s been hours steering blearily at piece of asphalt populated by lots of other small steel boxes and large tool boxes roaring long at the relatively slow speeds.

    There is always the romance of the train but also there is the comfort of the train. You can sit in a comfortable seat reading a book, working on your computer worshipping enjoying the passing scenery. You can get up and stretch your legs or go to the bathroom whenever you want, perhaps even purchase a sandwich, a meal, or a drink.

    If you are on the right type of train, the truth is often faster much more restful can travelling by car. Sometimes and in some parts of the world a train trip can be a lot faster.

  10. Kip Williams says

    I’ve tried buses, trains, aeroplanes, and cars. The first three are hugely more expensive (roads are paid for by my taxes whether I drive or not), and require me to wait long hours in dreary places, listening for announcements that will tell me my trip is delayed again. In the car, I go visiting my family, the sights along the way are old friends from regular acquaintance. I decide when to pull over and satisfy my requirements. If I didn’t have this available, I simply couldn’t afford to go visit my sister and dad.

    Yeah, train travel was fun. I’ve also enjoyed bus and plane travel. Taking a train in this country, though, is only practical if you really, really want to see what’s outside the train window and are willing to pay a lot of money to do it. I’m in the US, needless to say. From time to time, I take a free ride by watching some amount of the however-many-hours train trip that’s always available on “Slow TV,” shot from the window of the engine. Hypnotic. Cheap.

  11. Kip Williams says

    ps: I rode the high-speed train from Shanghai, and I’ve ridden other trains in China. I pretty much spent the time looking out the window, just because. Some neighbors were in Shanghai about a week after we were, and either a few days before or a few days after (probably before) a widely reported high-speed rail failure. It was in 2011, so in my mind, details aren’t.

  12. John Morales says

    Well, I did wait, to not spoil the thread.

    But (a) I personally see them as wasteful, primitive ugly things and (b) will anyone think of the stokers? Hard yakka, that.

    (Not that I’ve been in a steam train, but I have been on a steam paddler)

    Incidentally, that guy shovelling is mechanically really bad; were I to try that, I’d get a bad back pain pretty quickly. Shuffle those feet!

  13. chrislawson says


    I would love to take trains everywhere. Alas I live in a corner of ther world where public transport is seen as some kind of demonic enterprise to be resisted at all costs, and where it can’t be resisted, to be made as inconvenient as possible for the maximal number of potential users.