The Ghost Whistle
 
There's a railbed near home, and you might say that she's been sleeping. They tore up the steel two decades before the death of the mainline through the valley, just a short spur that wasn't needed, a limb lopped off to save a tree that was sawed down in the end. I first walked this muddy track a couple years back, running parallel to Clarence for eighteen kilometers or so. It's not on many maps, most locals don't know it, and though I've lived nearby for my entire life, I wasn't aware until lately.

If you're no hardcore hiker, it's still an easy approach. From any north/south road crossing, you can pull up and walk a section as far as you like – from the roads of Messenger, Balcom, Leonard, Elliott, Fitch, and finally, Mount Hanley. The trail goes a little further if you like, over Highway 101 and Brooklyn Road, where it becomes the old line through the forest from Middleton to Bridgewater. But out here in Clarence, over crumbling bridges and rusted-out culverts, this improbable path once carried endless cars and countless tons, rattling the farmhouse walls. Sometimes, I swear that I can hear the ghost whistle blow.

July 13, 2017
Clarence, Nova Scotia