National Geographic : 1985 Oct
Breathless tales of adventure are footnoted by a forlorn train abandoned on the Hijaz Railway from Medina to Damascus (below). It was one operated by the Ottoman Turks, allies of Germany duringWorld War I when the rails and stationswere harassed by the storied T. E. Lawrence and his Arabianirregulars. Lawrence wrote of mining the rails in 1917 at nearby Abu an Naam station: "We lay like lizards... upon the hill-top, and saw the garrisonparade. Three hundred and ninety-nine infantry, little 506 toy men, ran about.. . " On anotherraid in the area he led his men underfire to the rail line in a ruse. "We made our camels kneel down beside it, and... performed a sunsetprayer quietly..... from a distance we passed muster, and the Turks stopped shooting in bewilderment. This was the first and last time I ever prayed in Arabia as a Moslem." To the east a new road rolls toward the HijazMountains (right) and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Crossingthe frankincense trail,it bears traffic that succeeded the incense traders-the pilgrims of Islam.