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RELIGION: Safety on the tracks

by Gene Linzey | August 18, 2021 at 5:22 a.m.

Charles and Cathy Knoop are moving to Alabama, and we drove to Los Alamos, N.M., to say adios before they left. Charles is a life-long friend, so this is not a permanent "Goodbye." I know we'll see them again.

Then Paul and Sandy (Carol's sister) went with us to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We never tire of the beauty of the mountains surrounding the area. Paul and Sandy are hikers and Paul has hiked the 11-mile trail up to Pagosa Peak, which reaches 12,640 feet above sea level. I enjoy walking, but hiking up mountains that reach 2.4 miles into the sky doesn't thrill me. Keep going, Paul!

As I mentioned, I enjoy walking, and we took several walks along the San Juan River that flows through Pagosa Springs. I like to fish, but this trip didn't allow for fishing.

The word "Pagosa" comes from the Ute Indian words "pah," which means healing, and "gosa," which means "boiling." And indeed, the Pagosa Springs have been "healing waters" to many people through the years.

The sulfur-rich water from the many hot springs that comes from about 1,000 feet below the surface can reach temperatures up to 144 degrees F, but the springs that feed the pools in Pagosa are about 114 degrees F. However, the hotels mix in cold water, so the hottest pool does not exceed 105 degrees F.

Hot springs around the world are known for the healing effects people receive from soaking in them. But please, don't get into water that is greater than 105 degrees F. Water at a higher temperature has physically hurt people.

The next day we drove 60 miles to a city park adjacent to the Animas River in Durango, Colo. One of our desires in Durango was to see trains either leave on the 45-mile trip to Silverton, Colo., or return from Silverton. As we ate our picnic lunch, we called the train station to check the schedule. The adult fare ranges from $99 for standard coach seating to $224 for seating in the Presidential car. It's a spectacular three-hour ride each way, and passengers are given two hours for shopping in Silverton before the return trip. We didn't ride the train.

We drove to a vantage point, positioned ourselves on an elevated walking bridge, and waited. We had cameras and cell phones ready because we wanted to show our grandkids pictures of the train.

Then we saw something that caused us great concern. Two women were slowly walking on the railroad bridge that crosses the Animas River. The train should arrive within minutes! If the women lost their footing, they could fall between the railroad ties and possibly break a leg or arm -- then be killed if the train hit them. If they didn't get caught in the ties, they could jump 25 feet into the water; but the water was too shallow and they could break legs, their back, or be killed when they hit the boulders in the riverbed.

Thankfully, the train didn't come. We forgot that it was Saturday and the weekend schedule differed from the weekly plan, but I began thinking of safety on the tracks.

I read that since 1997, about 7,200 pedestrians in the United States have been killed by trains, and approximately 6,400 more have been injured. In 2014, an average of 16 people were killed every week by trains. That was 832 pedestrian deaths on railroad tracks in 2014 alone, which does not include deaths by trains colliding with cars, trucks, or with other trains.

For some reason, people sleep on the tracks, and the sound of the train doesn't wake them up. People are adventurous and like to walk on the rails or ties but are careless. Others rationalize that committing suicide by train will be quick and painless. About 1,100 people committed suicide from 2012-2017 by train, and with another 220 injured in failed attempts.

Why do we have this carnage on the rails?

Many people lack wisdom and others don't value life.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us that if we honor the Lord, He will give us wisdom and understanding that we need all throughout our life. And with wisdom, we will realize that it is foolish to play on the railroad tracks or walk across railroad bridges. With wisdom, we learn to value life which includes obeying safety rules.

With wisdom, we learn to understand life. With wisdom, we learn to worship, revere, and obey our heavenly Father.

-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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