On Monday, the entire internet was taken in by the corn train.
This picture appeared everywhere—Facebook, Twitter, front page Reddit, even a few gun forums in New York and Arkansas. The captions were nearly identical, mostly something about a “freight train in Minnesota leaking corn.”
apparently a freight train in Minnesota was leaking corn pic.twitter.com/85mWkR8IvI— Alex "Boreal" Forrest ���� (@380kmh) January 6, 2020
It spread like wildfire. People found the even coverage satisfying, beautiful, and even soothing in a way they couldn’t explain.
But this is the internet, and a lot of things are too good to be true. Immediately, doubts started cropping up. Where exactly were these “Minnesota” tracks? When and how had this taken place?
A call to Minnesota’s Department of Transportation turned up nothing. Without a location to start from, it was hard to check in with the freight dispatch and see if there had been any… corn… reports. Spokesperson Christina Joyce had her doubts that what she was looking at was even real.
“It looks pretty neatly spread between the tracks,” she says. “Can I have them do my driveway or something?”
A few Redditors thought they recognized the viaduct in the background from someplace in Crystal, or maybe Faribault. But neither city’s government or emergency dispatch had even heard of a peep about a corn spill.
By Tuesday morning, people were starting to give up. It looked like the whole thing was just one more internet mirage. Then Star Tribune reporter Adam Belz found a miracle.
The corn train was real. The original photo looks to have come from the Twitter account of one Mike Parker, who said corn had spilled on the tracks by his house and the ducks and deer hadn’t found it yet. (To be fair, neither had we, and it wasn’t for lack of looking.)
Corn spilled on the tracks by my house the ducks and deer haven’t found it yet pic.twitter.com/UIdcT0aWKO— Mike Parker (@Mike1Parker) January 5, 2020
The tracks are technically the railroad's responsibility, not the state's, but eventually, the Department of Transportation was able to confirm the location as around Crystal, on the Canadian Pacific Paynesville subdivision. Joyce says a crew has begun cleaning up the mess with a hy-rail vac truck.
So in short, yes, Virginia, there is a corn train, and it is in Minnesota. In this dystopian media hellscape, it’s nice to know we still have something to believe in.