A noisy little railway story

Video 101: Along the line
As I walked up the driveway toward Mick Spilsbury’s Black Canyon Railroad, I could begin to hear the multitude of sounds stemming from the site. At first, I could distinguish the sounds of cows and sheep coming from the vicinity of four stock cars. But then I listened a bit more deliberately, and heard 10 different animal sounds playing.

Further along the railroad, there was a dancehall with piano music and raucous laughter. Mick encouraged me to listen longer. A fight broke out; there were shouts of men, screams of women, and the sounds of chairs and tables splintering to bits. And then, the calm returned and the music resumed. “Now keep listening, there’s one more,” Mick whispered. It was the sound of a patron who had indulged a bit too much. No further description is required!

Next, we walked toward the operating gold mine, where whirring motors, laboring machinery, and then a thunderous explosion could be heard every 20 seconds.

This railroad tells a story you can hear, and it does so with many voices, some of them amplified with sophisticated electronics and sound systems. My curiosity would lead me to examine how this all worked. However, Mick was quick to remind me that sounds weren’t the focal point. They were installed to enhance a visitor’s trip along the rails. Still, I marveled at the creativity of the owner who seems to have a strikingly similar appearance to the legendary Baron Spilsbury, whose
businesses populate the Black Canyon Railroad!

The Black Canyon Railroad in Black Canyon, California, is special on many levels. Built in the small suburb of San Rafael, the railway replicates the active mining operations, railroad traffic, plus the rough-and-tumble town activities that were known in the region many years ago.

I was eager to record all the sights and sounds, so I added a sensitive microphone to my cameras. To enjoy a video capturing the same cacophony of sounds I heard along the line, simply dim the lights, turn up the volume, and click on the video box.


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