Old 03-07-2006, 02:42 AM   #1
Wonka001
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Default Your earliest railfanning experiences..

What are some of your earliest railfanning experiences?

Mine..
Out to Woods Cross, I have relatives that live by the old D&RGW main, I was just a kid, there was a switch train doing some switch work for the local refineries, I watched as it sparked a fire in the nearby field and the fire department had to be called, after almost all had left, I realized I was the only one there, and some how or the other a cop that was there got a hold of my mother and to have someone come back and get me..

Other times, when riding in our car, I would hope that we would get stopped by a train on our way home. If I would have realized how close to the tracks we really were when I was just a tot, I probably would have walked there and just watched trains all day.
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Old 03-07-2006, 02:55 AM   #2
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My dad was working in Deer Lodge, MT when I visited him. I was only 10 or 11. The yard had hook ups for trailers of employees.

My mom and I arrived after dark so I did not get a good idea of the layout. At that age, I pictured everything closing at night. Not the railroad.

I had stayed in the trailer before, but never inside of yard limits. I was up all night long listening to my introduction to (rail yard) humping. Hearing the locomotive notch up, the car slice through the air, and the crashing sounded as if it was 2 feet away.
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Old 03-07-2006, 04:15 AM   #3
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I got into it when I was 14. I was born and raised in Boonton, NJ on the EL so in very short order we'd be down at the station watching what few trains did run. (Boonton line had only 2 trains per day, freightwise.

We got to know the engineer on the Boonton drill which worked both yards plus Drew chemical. Things were different in 1971... we got hours of cab rides in RS-2 #907, sometimes whole shifts. Never happen now. Quite an intro to trains! Cab rides are all finito now.

Here is one of the first shots I ever took with an Instamatic... how I wished for a 35mm but we never had much money.This is 910 at what the Boonton yard used to look like. I was so excited to take any train pic that I just about got the things in the frame!

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Old 03-07-2006, 04:50 AM   #4
J. E. Landrum
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My earliest memory involving a train was in Berkshire Co. Massachusetts. I'm not sure what line it was, but my father was carrying a rifle and fishing gear, so he was ready for whatever passed our way. We set up along a creek near a railroad bridge to fish and shortly after, a train passed overhead with at least four Penn Central switchers. I reckon that the spot we were at was along what is now the Housatonic RR out of Pittsfield (my birthplace). It was certainly not a mainline as that was the only train we saw all day. Our home at the time was adjacent to the B&A and trains ran regularly.

If anyone from "the Pitts" reads this, is T.O.'s still open?
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Old 03-07-2006, 05:08 AM   #5
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I had a Conrail Secondary Line (ex-Reading to Williamsport) literally in my back yard when I was growing up. I would spend hours walking along the tracks and watching trains when I was a little squirt (never took a picture, I guess I never put two and two together). Now the Lycoming Valley Railroad runs those lines, 2 turns a day...not like it was when I was 8...
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Old 03-07-2006, 06:44 AM   #6
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Default born on the wrong side

born on the wrong side of the tracks or so I was told. My back yard fence was less than 50 feet from the main line of the Southern Pacific RR in Southern California. I could sit on our fence and watch the trains go by with then their hoppers full of oranges, beets, potatos, or other produce. Along with grain trains for the local farms. It was an exciting time for a youngster in the late 50-60's. I watched one of the last Steam locomotives go by on it's retirement run.
Rode my first freight train in my early teens to Santa Ana, in an open boxcar. Traveled up and down the coast via train with the Santa Fe San Diegon my favorite passenger train of the time replaced by the Southwest Chief and Desert Wind.
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Old 03-07-2006, 05:03 PM   #7
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All my life I've lived less than a mile from the RR tracks(whereever I live). I lived near the IMRL first the BNSF then IMRL again and now the CN/IC. But most of my railfan experiences where at my grandmas house. My whole life I've watched trains there, from BN before 1995 to BNSF after 1995.

There's been many interesting things that has happened there. Here's just 2 of the many.

1) There was a train during the night that started a huge grassfire near the houses. The grass was burnt everywhere, the ground was all black for a mile(at least) north of town. Luckily the fire didn't burn any houses.
2) There's a CO-OP industrial siding(about a half a mile long) in Polo,IL(along the BNSF). A train comes about once a week with tank cars full of chemicals(for farmer's fields). The cars were parked between 2 buildings when being unloaded then were pushed out with an end-loader. The cars would keep going while someone jumped on to apply the hand brake. Sometimes the guys would just let the cars go to stop on their own, but one day the car kept going and going towards the mainline, it derailed when it hit the derailer before the mainline. When I lived in Polo, you could here big bangs from the guys pushing those cars out........and of course they'd bang into the cars already sitting there. Every once and a while the cars would get away, usually the guys were able to catch up to the cars by running on foot and apply the hand brake, but that one time the car couldn't be stopped. Luckily when the car was pushed out it was empty, otherwise the town would've had to be evacuated.

Needkess to say, they no longer do that. The train just parks it in one spot and that's where it's unloaded. It stays there until it's picked up the next week
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Old 03-07-2006, 10:51 PM   #8
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I've got a few to share from between the ages of 5 and 7 (boy, that seems like such a long time ago...).

1.) The most vivid memory I have is from when I lived out in the country, several miles from town. I only really remember NS, although in the mid-80's there were still many Southern painted units on the rails along with a few that had already been painted into the new NS scheme. I always loved seeing those high hood tuxedos running the correct way (long hood forward for you youngins). Even cooler were the mid train radio units. Any time we'd get stopped at a crossing, I'd count the cars, get up to around 110-125 and see that mid train engine and not know whether to count it or not.

2.) Up until I turned 17, I'd spend two weeks out in Charlottesville, VA with my grandparents. They lived barely a quarter mile from the tracks (NS/Southern), and my grandmother and I would sometimes walk up there to watch the trains go by. Also, my uncle Jim lived within view of the ex-C&O, although it was never as busy as the Southern. It looked like C&O had a shop just east of downtown at one point, and there were always several locomotives and cabs parked there although the shop building was gone by the mid 80's.

One time my parents drove me out there and we went via Elkhorn City, KY and spent some time at the Breaks. I looked down in the valley and saw a train emerging from a tunnel with a Chessie System unit leading. I was unaware at the time that the Chessie System had become part of CSX (same for the Clinchfield which I had never heard of). Either way, I thought it was cool.

3.) Interestingly enough, some railfan experiences don't always come from making it a point to watch trains. Such was the case with my first experience in seeing Conrail. Since I was (and still am) a huge baseball fan, my mom took me to the Louisville Slugger plant which was in Jeffersonville, IN at the time (1989). The plant was right across the road from the ex-Conrail line between Louisville and Indianapolis. While waiting for the tour to start, I heard a train horn and looked out the window to see a southbound behind a few Conrail locomotives. If only I had my camera with me and/or was old enough to drive before they sold the line...
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Old 03-08-2006, 12:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. E. Landrum
My earliest memory involving a train was in Berkshire Co. Massachusetts. I'm not sure what line it was, but my father was carrying a rifle and fishing gear, so he was ready for whatever passed our way. We set up along a creek near a railroad bridge to fish and shortly after, a train passed overhead with at least four Penn Central switchers. I reckon that the spot we were at was along what is now the Housatonic RR out of Pittsfield (my birthplace). It was certainly not a mainline as that was the only train we saw all day. Our home at the time was adjacent to the B&A and trains ran regularly.

If anyone from "the Pitts" reads this, is T.O.'s still open?
I never knew you were from this area Erick. I live 50 miles east of Pittsfield. Where exactly is TO's located in Pittsfield? I'll check next time im out that way.
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:08 AM   #10
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Awesome thread! Here is my contribution...

I am 14 years old now, and have been railfanning since before I can remeber. The person who got me into railfanning is my dad. I still remeber some of our earliest railfanning trips. I remeber the train trips we took on the Metra to union station.......

Good times...good times!
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:26 AM   #11
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Until I was 4 years old, I grew up in Kirkwood, MO close to what was then the UP Sedalia Sub (now the Jefferson City Sub), which was the former MoPac line to Jeff City, MO and then to Kansas City, MO. I remember my mom used to babysit a boy named Brad, who was about a year younger than me. When Brad's father picked him up, he would often take both of us down to the depot to watch Amtrak come in and a few freights. I watched some of the last MoPac locomotives roll through in 1991 and didn't even realize the signifigance of what I had seen until only recently.

After Kirkwood, we moved to Mountain Air, NM which was on the Santa Fe. I can still clearly the warbonnets, with still fresh paint. Then we moved to Los Lunas, NM, also on what was the Santa Fe, and I remember visiting a nearby yard with engine facilities.

We then moved back to St. Louis, MO (Kirkwood is in West St. Louis County) and settled in an area of South County known as Mehlville, only about 1/2 mile from the BN's River Sub. This was in 1996, and shortly after we arrived, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe merged into the BNSF and the line became the BNSF River Sub. In fact, the majority of my first RP.net shots are from MP 12.5 and MP 13 on the River Sub, which was the spot closest to my house (I was riding a bike at that time )

I'm now a senior at Mehlville Sr. High and hope to be employed with the Union Pacific by the end of the year.
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Old 03-08-2006, 12:02 PM   #12
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Being scolded by my second or third grade teacher in Tustin, CA when caught staring out the classroom window at SP's Marlboro local - Alco S6 and a handful of cars. The track is now a walking path and, of course, the Alco's and SP are long gone.



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Old 03-08-2006, 12:17 PM   #13
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It all started for me when I was probably 3 (maybe even earlier). My parents used to take me for rides on the NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line quite often. Sometimes we'd head from Spring Lake to Bay Head and other times we'd go from Spring Lake up to Long Branch where electrification begins going North and ends going South. The thing that sealed my fate was my first ride on the narrow guage Pine Creek Railroad at Allaire State Park. It was all down hill from there. Of course a trip to Strasburg to ride the RR and stay in the Red Caboose Motel for my 8th birthday didn't help things. Additionally I used to love watching Conrail units milling about on the Chemical Coast as we'd be heading up to NYC or farther up into North Jersey.

It wasn't till about 14 though (and moving to VA) that I started taking pictures of them. At 14 and 15, I used to ride my bike the 2 miles into Keysville to photograph the Virginia Southern. One of these days If I ever get a better scanner I need to scan a few of those in. Most of the photos were crap in terms of quality, but I didn't know a thing about photography then (yeah, like I do now. ).

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Old 03-10-2006, 03:43 AM   #14
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Yes, I'm a Berkie. TO's is located near the old Amtrak station (not the Amshack downtown) near the yard. It's more or less a bar that served typical bar food. My father and I would go in there on a break from railfanning and he'd order some hot dogs to go. The bartender would yell "half an arm for the road, hold the tears!" (4 hot dogs laid end to end covered a forearm, no onions). As a wee youngin' I thought that was da shizzle. I was last at TO's in 1991 and at my last inquiry, it was still open in 2000. I am long overdue for a visit to my roots. Thanks for checking on it for me! - Erik

Quote:
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I never knew you were from this area Erick. I live 50 miles east of Pittsfield. Where exactly is TO's located in Pittsfield? I'll check next time im out that way.
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