Trainsong: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Trainsong Park in Northwest Eugene

Trainsong Park in Northwest Eugene

BY Travis Loose

EUGENE, Ore. — Northwest Eugene’s Trainsong neighborhood isn’t spoken of with much kindness.

After reading about the area, and reviewing some of its residents’ comments about how the city could improve its livability, I was somewhat anxious about my decision to voluntarily visit and report on this place.

Drugs, gangs, unsafe living conditions, poor roads and poorer neighbors – all of these issues are items of concern for the people who live there.

Trainsong has a livability ranking of 22 out of 22 Eugene neighborhoods.

A bed-roll and other amenities indicate that a person may live underneath this trailer in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

A bed-roll and other amenities indicate that a person may live underneath this trailer in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

Upon my entrance into the neighborhood, however, fear was not the emotion that came to me.

It is run-down, to be sure, but not in a frightening way.

Some of the homes show no signs of wear, while others show significant aging enough to necessitate condemning.

Every other driveway, whether it belonged to one of the nicer homes or otherwise, lent space to an old, beat-up vehicle; many of them without wheels, a few without doors – all spotted with rust and decay.

But I felt no fear while cruising slowly up and down the few streets that make up the neighborhood.

One of the many run-down homes in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

One of the many run-down homes in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

Trainsong rests between Highway 99N on the West and the Southern Pacific switching yards on the East.

The streets are tight, short, and partially graveled. Few businesses are found within the residential area, and many of the streets result in dead ends.

Also, on either side of the neighborhood, the presence of Trainsong’s namesake remains a constant fixture.

I immediately understood where the neighborhood’s title came from: trains run absurdly close to the homes here. Hardly 25 feet separates the houses from the tracks in some places.

I imagine that takes some getting used to.

But there is beauty here.

One of the nicer homes in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

One of the nicer homes in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene.

The park is grassy, and it appears to be well maintained.

Even some of the decrepit, ramshackle homes have a certain antique pulchritude about them.

During my visit, the anxiety that I had initially felt never returned.

That may have something to do with the fact that I made my visit in the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful, sunny day.

A visit at night may elicit a different set of emotions.

Regardless, my initial impression of Trainsong – with its broken-down vehicles littered everywhere, quirky little homes and condensed, tight streets – was not one of disgust, fear, or apprehension.

I don’t know that I’d want to live there, what with the trains being so close all the time, but I am excited to learn about the people who do.

A boat rests in the front yard of a home, among other various debris, in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene. "This is America," has been crudely scrawled on the side.

A boat rests in the front yard of a home, among other various debris, in the Trainsong neighborhood of Northwest Eugene. “This is America,” has been crudely scrawled on the side.

I would venture to guess that they probably have a lot to say about it.

 

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