Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ranger Jim’s Ramblings Extra

One thing I like including in my stories is trains.  There’s just something about a train that fires the imagination. I’ve taken Amtrak cross-country several times and always enjoy it. I’ve also taken the Grand Canyon Railroad and the Durango and Silverton Narrow gauge, plus the Conway Scenic Railroad up in New Hampshire.

It’s hard to go wrong when you have a story’s setting on a train. There can be romance, intrigue, suspense, robbery, murder… or all of the above and more. What’s more, with the train rolling across the countryside, the scenery and setting changes with each passing mile. Along with the passing of time, it makes for an exciting venue. And a passenger train is the perfect setting for chance meetings, people to find and/or hide from each other, new love to bloom or old love to fade.

A train trip works for almost all genres and time periods (as long as it’s after the railroad was invented, of course). A story can be a contemporary romance, a Victorian murder mystery, or a Western gang of robbers tale… all work well on a train. A train will take your characters from the big city to the rural countryside in the course of a couple of hours. There can be swamps, prairie, mountains, and deserts to cross. There can be trestles over two hundred foot deep canyons, or dark, mile long tunnels. Every author should try at least one train story.

My first Jim Blawcyzk Texas Ranger novel, now under the title Death Stalks the Rails, was set on a train. And trains are important parts of several of my western novels.

So, if I may borrow the timeless conductor’s cry… “All aboard!” You won’t regret it.
Jim Griffin


  1. Jim,

    My best train rides, EVER, were on the British Army Train, traveling back from Helmstedt, Germany, to Berlin.

    I was in civilian clothes, undercover, with special travel orders with a GS-9 Card.

    I always ate a sumptuous meal and was treated like royalty by the train staff.

    It was a day train and most times almost completely empty. After dinner, I would sit in the dining car and drink Guinness and talk to the German staff in their language.

    One hundred and ten miles of bliss! I must have made that return trip to Berlin, over a hundred fifty times. That was back in 1968-71.


  2. Jim I got to ride a train one time as a kid--our kindergarten class took the train from Duncan to Marlow just a few miles away, and then back. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! I have always had a fascination with trains. They're talking about putting a train in here in OKC now that will run to Tulsa, I believe, and back.

  3. Loved Amtrak and my choice of travel besides driving. The Cumbres - Toltec is also a great trip. Great memories of many a trip, and your right, great setting for stories. Doris