Would you live in a house a 2 acre distance from an active train track? - Mothering Forums
The Mindful Home > Would you live in a house a 2 acre distance from an active train track?
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 06:48 PM 06-27-2012

Recently a possibilty came up for me to move to a nice house situation that is appealing. The one downside is that the land borders a train track- the house is about a 2 acre distance of a field away from the track- (maybe even 3 acre)- seperated by a field. But you have to drive over a bridge that goes over the track (the track is under the bridge- the bridge is not ground level- the train is some what lower down a bank from the drivway).

Sp you have to cross the bridge over the train and the train runs at the edge of the property.

Today dh and I went (with 2 yr old ds) to check it out- we mostly had him in the stroller but strangely had him walking when we were crossing the bridge- and he ran towards the side- which is a very open fenced side- and said train-! (there was no train coming at the time but he saw the tracks) and dh grabbed him- but I got so scared.

other than that the place is appealing to me in many ways which I don't want to discuss.


So I am wondering about the idea of danger/safety in choosing a home- in some ways it feels like a ridiculous situation to put myself in in terms of I am very protective of ds- and do I want him growing up with the train so close and all the danger it presents?

My dh actually grew up on a busy rd and he said his parents just taught him not to go in the road and it was fine. We would put up a very secure fence on the bridge, and probably a fence along the whole property bordering the train but **** it is a danger.

So the question is- is having a train a 2 acre distance from a house a deal braker because it is so dangerous with a young child (who I would watch all the time but even so) or is it simply something that a family can learn to adapt to- and worth it for a really otherwise great home?


I tend to be very cautious and protective and want to set up as safe a haven as possible to raise my family. But is this a reasonable danger or a stupid thing to consider? what do you think?

SimpleLove's Avatar SimpleLove 07:52 PM 06-27-2012

I was expecting this to just be a noise question. I understand where you're coming from, but personally I would move forward with plans to live there. You guys sound ready to do whatever it takes to make it as safe as possible. Any living situation could have safety issues and it's a matter of providing supervision and teaching your children (like your DH said).

green_momma2007's Avatar green_momma2007 09:21 AM 06-28-2012

Here's the thing. Would your child ever get away from you and be able to cover 3 acres without you noticing? If this is the case, then your child is in danger no matter what the surroundings, KWIM?

I think if you are parenting like most caring parents then you should be fine, assuming that your yard is going to be fenced in.

herbsmd's Avatar herbsmd 10:46 AM 06-28-2012

I grew up with a freight train in my back yard.  My grandfather had the house built there years before because of his love for trains.  He then gave the house to my parents when my grandmother died unexpectedly.  It was a very large home on a beautiful property with a woods and a creek as well.  We climbed trees to watch the train pass, we played on the train tracks (put nickels on them and watched them be flattened by the train), we collected coal that would fall from the coal cars and we made games of counting the train cars.  I always remember knowing the dangers but we were very free to roam the area when we were younger too.  Yes, we could have been hit by a train and yes we could also have drowned in the creek.  

I am not sure what to advise you, but I LOVED our train.  When my parents sold the house after we were all grown and married (we all moved into a beautiful house in the city together!), the only real sorrow I had was leaving behind the magic of the train.  The house, with all of its beauty, grandeur, and style, measured only a small loss in comparison.  

I would not rule out a home with a train...

Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 10:50 AM 06-28-2012

thanks for the responses. The thing is that to get in and out of the property, the driveway goes over the tracks. It is also a logical walking area- to walk to the end of the driveway and then over to the road. I am also thinking about when he is older. At this age I watch him like a hawk. But when he is an older child, even when I teach him about the safety of it- isn't it still just a generally dangerous thing to have a train running the border of your yard? Even when he is 10 years old or whatever? or 14? or is it reasonable to assume that he will simply know how to not get in the danger that is there? Do you see what I am getting at?

Like, do I want to say yes to a situation that involves me even having to worry about a train so close to the house- or is it not a big deal?


At any rate at present it is only a possibilty not yet fully available. I am just thinking of if it does move into actually a reality- it feels like this great opportunity in all the ways besides the train, but it also comes with this potential danger that I don't have in my current ho hum living situation that doesn't have a train bordering it. kwim?


So philisophically or practically, is it worth it to add a danger element to a family life if it also adds other wonderful home elements? or is it better to play it safe and stay awayfrom somehting that could be added danger but also miss an opportunity for something good?

Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 10:52 AM 06-28-2012

herbs md- is this a true story? it sounds magical and whimsical and I want to believe in it but is it really true?

fruitfulmomma's Avatar fruitfulmomma 11:14 AM 06-28-2012

I've been thinking this one over... If you are extremely worried and it is going to affect how you live while you are there, then no don't do it.


Our situation with our living is that we are in a very small town with the house facing a small street and the yard is about 120 feet long with a fence at the back. Beyond that it is an alley with probably another 120-150ish feet of field before you get to the county road. Since we are *just* inside of town the speed limit is low enough but people don't really pay attention to it. We get a lot of trucks going through there pretty fast sometimes. We've lived here since my oldest, who just turned 12, was 1 and I have 4 more girls that are ages 10 to 3. We have never had an incident of any of them going out the back gate or into the fields at all.


One question you might ask yourself is, would you have the same concerns moving into a house next door to a family with an unsecured swimming pool? That would be far more concerning to me.

4evermom's Avatar 4evermom 11:31 AM 06-28-2012

I've always lived a few blocks from a train. My 10 yo ds is a bit nervous/cautious of crossing the tracks at grade level and doesn't even like being near the edge of the platform. He loved trains when he was young as does my dh. My dh's favorite memory was going to his neighborhood playground (at age 3), climbing to the top of the slide, and waiting for the train to come past on the bordering tracks. We live on a moderately busy street and that was never a problem with ds.


I thought you'd be concerned about the noise, too.


Some kids are risk takers and will take risks no matter where they are. They'll make up risks you can't even predict, like jumping off the roof or climbing to the very top of a tree. Not living near tracks won't be any safer for them. And if your child isn't a risk taker, raising him to be aware of the potential danger will be all he needs by the time he is old enough to go out on his own. Though sometimes cautious kids take more risks when they are hanging out with other less cautious kids...

herbsmd's Avatar herbsmd 04:32 PM 06-28-2012

Yes, it's absolutely true!!!  I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee just two blocks from Lake Michigan.  My grandfather had the house built and it is where my mother grew up.  Then, after her first child was born and her mother passed away, my grandfather gave it to her.  It was (still is) a beautiful old house with a lot of magic and beauty.  My parents raised four children there successfully--none of us were ever hit by a train, and none of us drowned in the creek!!  In fact, we all had an absolutely picturesque childhood--the train was certainly a part of that!!  My grandfather (who was later killed in a tragic car accident) had little model train cars that he would hide around our house for us to find.  And he would take us out to watch the train as well.  Many beautiful memories.


Once my older brother and I were climbing a gigantic old pine tree to watch the train and he said "Every time a train passes, we get closer to the city."  He was always a teaser, but for some reason I really wanted to believe him.  It wasn't until I was almost in high school that I really figured out that it wasn't true :)    Also, many sleepover parties were had at my house when I was a young girl and someone would always wake up in the middle of the night wondering what the rattling sound was (train passing).  I never woke up to it because I was always so used to it.  It was a comforting sound coming past the home in the middle of the night.  

Really, having told you all of these stories, I now know why my grandfather built his home next to the train.  The 20+ years that I lived there (before my parents sold it to move to the city) I don't think there was ever a death on those tracks.  

Anyway, it was wonderful and telling the stories reminds me about it all over again!!!


Now we all live together in a big house in the city--it is equally magical but there is no train :)



Caneel's Avatar Caneel 12:51 PM 06-29-2012

I have memories similar to herbsmd - My great aunt lived along an active train track.  The house sat far away from but the back of the yard backed up to the tracks.  My cousins and I would race to the tracks when we heard the train coming and wave like crazy to the guy in the caboos.  We would besides ourselves with joy when he would wave back.  We also picked coal (lots of people, including the aunt, had coal furnances back then) and flattened pennies.  We had to cross the track to get to the river so we were going up and over the tracks several times a day.


Train track + river = total nightmare to me when thinking about my DS playing in the same area.  We were the same age as my son is now.  I fully admit to being overprotective as well as having an anxiety problem!


But to answer OPs question, I would buy the house if you like everything else about it.


herbsmd - was your dad a Trainspotter?  I live in an area where there is a lot of freight train traffic and there is a spot where men (never saw a woman) gather to watch the trains and take pictures.  I have not doubt anyone of them would love a house adjacent to the tracks! 

onlyzombiecat's Avatar onlyzombiecat 09:47 AM 07-01-2012

We live pretty near train tracks and have since dd was 7 years old. Dd is 12 now. 

Dd has climbed out on the roof of our house more than once but has never played by the train tracks. She is an impulsive kid but still gets not to play on train tracks or in the middle of the street.


I think if you go over safe behavior around train tracks, watch out for him while he is young and put up fencing this really isn't that big of a safety issue. I don't think it is more of a safety issue than buying a house by a street and teaching your child how to cross safely and not play there.


Some train safety info for kids:


It is noisy but we have gotten used to it.

Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 02:58 PM 07-01-2012

so tell me about the noise factor- I was thinking more of safety issue than noise issues- even though I Am quite noise sensative- I figured the train noise only lasts a minute here and there so it wouldn't bother me. not sure though.

chel's Avatar chel 08:30 AM 07-05-2012
I'm about 2miles from a train track and often wake up at night when one goes past. Sound is louder in winter.

Personally I would be very concerned with noise, but it also depends on how frequent trains come by. We have a lot of trains. Both Amtrak, mass transit, and cargo all on the same track.

As a child I played on the tracks near my grandparents. Penny on the track and such. Would have a heart attack if my kids were doing the same.

All in all I would not move to such a location.
philomom's Avatar philomom 09:09 AM 07-05-2012
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

so tell me about the noise factor- I was thinking more of safety issue than noise issues- even though I Am quite noise sensative- I figured the train noise only lasts a minute here and there so it wouldn't bother me. not sure though.

If it goes by several times a day and sometimes at night, you will notice the noise affects your life. Especially at such a close distance.

I don't mind having a train track a mile down the road.. I find it comforting and nostalgic..... but I would not want it right on top of me.
rachelsmama's Avatar rachelsmama 09:25 AM 07-05-2012
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

so tell me about the noise factor- I was thinking more of safety issue than noise issues- even though I Am quite noise sensative- I figured the train noise only lasts a minute here and there so it wouldn't bother me. not sure though.

I lived beside traintracks for a while (much, much closer than you would be), and while the noise was noticeable, it was less disruptive than other noise polution, like car alarms, sirens, barking dogs, noisy neighbours, etc...


As for the safety aspect, both of my kids were able to understand and respect the risk from trains quite easily. 


I can honestly say that train tracks bother me far less than busy roads, bad neighbourhoods, and lots of other things.

herbsmd's Avatar herbsmd 06:13 PM 07-05-2012

I never had a problem with the noise, but I grew up there.  Also, my parents had a big berm put in and bushes planted on top of it to muffle the noise.  They had it done when I was maybe 9?  The noise had to have been a factor for them to have had it put in.  

People who came to stay would notice it throughout their visit, but perhaps it would have gone away if they had stayed longer.  We had an exchange student who stayed for a year and the first two days he woke up with the train in a panic.  After that, he never heard it again.  

That's all I could remember!  Hope it helps!!


diana_of_the_dunes's Avatar diana_of_the_dunes 12:48 PM 07-06-2012

Regarding noise....  My house is about 600 feet from a set of active train tracks, though my property doesn't extend up to them.  There is one set of electric commuter train tracks, with trains that pass at about 60-70 mph.  They are small trains, though, and pretty quiet.  We get about 15 trains each day between 6 am and 11 pm.  Then there are two freight tracks.  I cannot say with certainty that this is true, but I have heard from numerous people at different times that this particular line is the busiest in the country.  We get a train every 15 minutes, on average.  These are large, heavy, long, whistle-blowing trains, along with the occasional Amtrak.


Do I consider it noisy?  Sometimes.  When we have the windows open in the summer, it seems like every time I need to call someone, a train comes by blowing its whistle.  The house occasionally vibrates a bit when a particularly heavy train comes through.  But overall?  I hardly notice them.  I find the next-door neighbor's 6 beagles FAR more obnoxious.  The train noise really does blend into the background, especially once the one or two whistle-blows are over; the rumbling from the cars has a white-noise quality.  The beagles' barking doesn't have that quality, and I've been woken up many more times from them than from a train.  irked.gif


I suppose I should qualify everything, though.  I grew up near this same line of tracks (though I was in town and about a half-mile away from them).  My friends and I would walk along the tracks (even occasionally bike inside them!), flatten pennies and nickles, and look for "treasure" - usually old railroad spikes and such.  My first apartment was about 400 feet away from the tracks, the same line, but by then our town had rules against the trains blowing whistles through town.  Because of that, I didn't notice them at all.  It's rather funny that DH and I now have a home along the same railroad tracks, even though we're about 10 miles away from where I grew up...

Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 09:34 AM 07-07-2012

thanks everyone. the housing situation is still unsure- still a possibilty but it is gonna take a while to know if we will get this house- we havent even seen the inside of it yet but the outside of the house is so nice and also the property is really nice too- the whole situation is kind of complex and involves others besides me and dh and ds so for now we are waiting to see how the cards fall. It may even be a yr till we really know-! But I think if the house is nice inside or atleast workable, the other factors are desireable that I think I can deal with the train. we'll see-

Tags: Mindful Home