Old 05-31-2008, 10:26 PM   #1
EMTRailfan
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Question How far do you drive to start a routine day of Railfanning?

With the gas prices, just curious as to how far everyone drives to start a routine day of railfanning. Below are my closest.
B&P Butler-42 miles (mult. trains daily...varying times of the day)
WNYP Meadville-45 miles (x3 weekly each direction out of Meadville, plus 4 or 5 NS trains daily)
Oil Creek&Titusville-35 miles (run x2 weekly plus weekend excursions)
Bessemer (CN) Greenville-60 miles (3or4 trains daily systemwide)

Obviously, above are 'chase' days. I have to drive even farther to get to NS or CSX main line action.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:57 PM   #2
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A routine day of railfanning constitutes me going anywhere, seeing a train, and catching it within 10 miles of my house. Always in bad light.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:14 PM   #3
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Everyone is amazed about how often I go "away" for vacation/shoot trains so here are some recent/frequent distances:
Work - 11 miles
School - 17 miles
NJT North Jersey Coast Line (Perth Amboy, NJ) - 16 miles
NJT North Jersey Coast Line (Bay Head Junction, NJ) - 29 miles
NS/CSX Shared Assets Lehigh Line (Bridgewater, NJ) - 30 miles
New Hope & Ivyland RR (New Hope, PA) - 52 miles
Strasburg Railroad (Strasburg, PA) - 120 miles
CSX Magnolia Cutoff (Magnolia, WV) - 282 miles
NS Pittsburgh Line (Cresson, PA) - 295 miles
Conway Scenic (North Conway, NH) - 388 miles
Pere Marquette 1225 Charter (Owosso, MI) - 700 miles
Milwaukee Road 261 Charter (Glencoe, MN) - 1266 miles

Needless to say I am very grateful I can split the cost or simply pitch in for a majority of my trips, but every cent I make pretty much goes to gasoline to get somewhere, hotels, or the cost of the charter.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:40 PM   #4
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Everthing I go after here is within a 5-60 mile radius from my home. Sometimes go farther if I have the time and the sky is perfect. Yesterday I wasted 3 gallons of gas for two shots, and then got screwed at the last location because the train stopped in a siding one mile from where I was waiting. At that point, I had a 35 mile drive home. So $12 in gas yesterday for pretty much nothing...but I had a good time regardless. The way I justify it is that it's money I would have probably spent at the bar Thursday or Friday night, but I chose to stay home instead. So, either way, it gets spent.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:43 PM   #5
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It all depends. We normally go over to CSXT Osborn yard and just see whats going on. So it could be a 20 Mile day or it could be a 220 mile day...
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
The way I justify it is that it's money I would have probably spent at the bar Thursday or Friday night, but I chose to stay home instead. So, either way, it gets spent.
I think that is the better question in relation to how much gas one uses on a trip, how do you justify it?

Last year I took a Friday morning trip to Allentown, PA (90 miles) to catch a local on the NS Cement Secondary to Nazareth, PA but I was too late, or so I thought. I decided to scout the line (30 miles) since I hadn't before and found that no train had gone north so I decided to head back to Allentown and see what action I could find in the yard. Nada other than the yard goat/slug working the hump in less than stellar light. I went east to Easton where I would be surprised by a coal train entering the NS Portland Secondary. I quickly got ahead and waited and waited and waited. I drove back to where I can see Hudson Yard across the Delaware River to see the train stopped. Forward , backwards , forwards, backwards... I spent 30 minutes waiting for the train to move before giving up and going home after filling up in Easton. A total of $50 for the drive out and back. Today, just filling up to go west would be $50 so the day's total now would be somewhere close to $80.

A trip is 'worth it' if I get at least one magazine worthy shot, a rare catch or rare event (charters are always worth it to me), or can cross off a location off my 'to-get-list'. I've learned that to justify the money and miles put in to a trip, time needs to be managed well which means plenty of research or knowledge of the line/area, being setup or having a plan in place for a train either way, and of course a little bit of luck always helps.
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:08 PM   #7
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Generally, I go to Marion, Ohio which is about a 36 mile drive from my house. I usually stay for a few hours and see around a dozen or so trains on the various lines.
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:20 PM   #8
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1/4 mile, and I'm trackside on the CSX Alleghany Sub.

Course after that, I generally drive 200 miles or more when I have a day to fan

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Old 06-02-2008, 10:42 PM   #9
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To coincide with Andrew's list of mileages:

Work - 10 miles
School - 27 miles

Closest Railroad (Falls Road Railroad) - 7 miles
CSX Main - 16 miles
Rochester Yard - 25 miles
Depew Lancaster & Western - 30 miles
NS Southern Tier Line - 42 miles (At It's Closest Point)
Lyons On The CSX Main - 67 miles
Buffalo - 70 miles
Arcade - 70 miles
Salamanca - 103 miles
Dunkirk On CSX's Lakeshore Sub - 108 miles
Gang Mills Yard On NS' Southern Tier - 113 miles

These are all locations I usually make a day trip out of. The guys on the East side of Rochester can't figure out why I don't go out there more (at 67 miles away, I can't imagine why... ).

All I can say is I'm glad I have a little 4 cylinder that gets 35 MPG when I don't do too much crazy driving...even when chasing a train, I get at worst 25 MPG or so. The fact that $10 can still get me a decent chase on a local railroad makes me happy...
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:30 AM   #10
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Work: 0.3 miles. Moving to my current apartment saves me on the order of 6-7 thousand dollars per year...and there I was wondering where all that money for new lenses came from!

But the savings hasn't translated into additional trainwatching.

From my apartment it is:

11 miles to the UP tracks
21 miles to the first place I actually like taking pictures of trains.

If I'm trying to stick around Las Vegas, I limit myself to the areas between Dry Lake and Jean, 40 miles 1-way from my place.

Other noteworthy places I either visit multiple times per year or should:
It is 76 miles to Ivanpah, 85 miles to Cima, and 103 miles to Kelso, all on UP's Cima Hill.
It's 114 miles on average to the Rainbow Canyon.
It's 128 miles to the Afton Canyon...absolutely no reason why I haven't hit this place yet.
It is 108 miles to the BNSF Transcon at Ibis should I get the urge for orange (143 if I go to Amboy which is 40 miles beyond Kelso).
Cajon Pass is 211 miles away
And Tehachapi is 254 miles distant.

Enough to keep a guy busy all year long!
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:07 AM   #11
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Lakes Sub/Grand Forks Sub: Division point is one mile from my house. With only ~5 trains daily and mostly at night catching trains can be hard. This train was shot about 2 miles from my house.
Image © Christopher Muller
PhotoID: 230591
Photograph © Christopher Muller


Staples Sub which is by far the busiest in outstate Minnesota is about 95 miles which I travel to about once a month.
Image © christophersmuller.com
PhotoID: 233309
Photograph © christophersmuller.com


Minnesota's Iron Range is about 120 miles for me to drive. Haven't been up here much, especially since gas has been so high.
Image © christophersmuller.com
PhotoID: 236516
Photograph © christophersmuller.com


Two other places I would like to visit before the end of summer are both about 400 miles away and are the UP in central Iowa...
Image © Christopher Muller
PhotoID: 222137
Photograph © Christopher Muller

...and Portage la Prairie...
Image © Christopher Muller
PhotoID: 222586
Photograph © Christopher Muller


...since gas is flirting with $4/gal I'm going to be a little more selective in where I go. Since the good 'ol railfan wagon gets about 30MPG's it isn't as big of a factor so much as how quickly the miles rack up on my car.

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Old 06-03-2008, 02:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken45
Enough to keep a guy busy all year long!
And generally fair weather 90% of the time too!
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:24 AM   #13
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Routine: 15-30 miles one-way from my house.

Travel Routine: 90-100 miles one-way.

This coming Wednesday: ~1100 miles one-way. Colorado, baby. WOOOO!!!!!
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:49 PM   #14
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Heres what is within five miles of my house.

Nearest Railroad Track is .6 miles away on the Lake State Railway.
There yard in which I can still find Alcos is 1.5 miles away.
Image © Steve Davey
PhotoID: 221375
Photograph © Steve Davey


Another line that is also 1.5 miles away is the Huron and Eastern, in which I can usually find older General Electric engines running down towards Durand.
Image © Steve Davey
PhotoID: 217659
Photograph © Steve Davey


3 miles from my house lies a major coal fired powerplant that receives trains with BNSF and CSX runthrough power.

Image © Steve Davey
PhotoID: 211783
Photograph © Steve Davey


It takes about 50 miles to drive to the nearest Class 1. CSX has about 4-6 trains per day out of McGrew Yard in Flint, while the CN's Chicago-Toronto main adds up to 40 trains per day.

Image © Steve Davey
PhotoID: 188251
Photograph © Steve Davey

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Old 07-14-2008, 04:54 AM   #15
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If I just want to watch the action it's a little less than a mile from my townhouse to the tracks and a well lit lot to sit in at night. If i go out for photography it could be as little as a few miles, all the way up to whatever I feel like driving.

For steam my closest fix is 100 miles one way. If I'm at work then I can slip over at lunch and check out the action in Charlotte Yard or the CSX diamond.
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:32 AM   #16
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For me:

2 miles to the Lake State Alpena Yard and 3 to the LaFarge Corp.
Image © Jim Guest
PhotoID: 242012
Photograph © Jim Guest


1-2 miles to 10th Street and some of my other favorite railfanning spots in the area.
Image © Jim Guest
PhotoID: 238579
Photograph © Jim Guest


10 Miles to Ossineke
[No Photo Yet]

120 miles to Bay City and 135 miles to Saginaw (I think) and a heck of a long way to Northtown!
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:15 PM   #17
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School: Graduated in the spring...
Work: 0.2 miles (1,070 feet)

16 miles to this:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


17 miles to this:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


19 to this:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


42 to this:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


61 to this:
Image ©
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Photograph ©


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Old 07-15-2008, 06:05 PM   #18
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Since everyone's posting thumbnails, I might as well have at it too.
1 mile:
Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 242487
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 242170
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 194224
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

4 miles:
Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 240084
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

(as well as the corresponding view the other way and whatever angles there are on the other side of the river)
10 miles:
Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 240038
Photograph © Matthew Hicks
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trainboysd40
Since everyone's posting thumbnails, I might as well have at it too.
1 mile:
Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 242487
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 242170
Photograph © Matthew Hicks

Image © Matthew Hicks
PhotoID: 194224
Photograph © Matthew Hicks
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:56 PM   #20
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Okay...

School- Graduated.
Work- About .25 miles, walk it on normal days.

I do most of my travelling via Amtrak (I ride free, my father is a manager). So, there's $0.00 to get to that location.

Image © Steven M. Welch
PhotoID: 230813
Photograph © Steven M. Welch

That is 0.000 miles from my house. My house is in the photo! The tree is the border between my backyard and the neighbors. AB(2) envies me on this... Living up against the tracks.

Image © Steven M. Welch
PhotoID: 230812
Photograph © Steven M. Welch

About a mile from home, I walk it in 15 minutes.

Image © Steven M. Welch
PhotoID: 240877
Photograph © Steven M. Welch

That's a 15 mile drive, or, I usually take the train there. The nearest Amtrak Depot is about 2 miles from home.

Image © Steven M. Welch
PhotoID: 239013
Photograph © Steven M. Welch

Christie, I take the train to Martinez and give a friend $5.00 for gas money to get to Christie. Not bad, IMO.

Image © Steven M. Welch
PhotoID: 231545
Photograph © Steven M. Welch

Furthest travelled to get a photo on RP. Feather River Canyon is about 600 miles one way. The brand new Tacoma has 7K miles on it, and I've had it for two months.

That takes care of that.

Later this month I'm making another FREE trip to LA, trying to hit Cajon with two RP'ers. Beginning of next month, a long FREE trip to the midwest, hitting Soldier Summit, Chicago, and Omaha. All travels on Amtrak.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:28 PM   #21
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With gas prices continually rising I usually try to stay close to my place since I can always catch high numbers of traffic about 3 miles from where I live in a busy rail yard which is great for watching trains and relaxing. If I want to get shots that I think are gallery worthy I have to travel a little further. I guess there are a couple things that ultimately decide how far I have to go. One being how much I want to spend on gas/drive and the other what type of shots I'm looking to get.

Shots like these are possible just 10 minutes from my place.

Image © John Fladung
PhotoID: 241174
Photograph © John Fladung

Image © John Fladung
PhotoID: 241280
Photograph © John Fladung

Image © John Fladung
PhotoID: 241157
Photograph © John Fladung

Image © John Fladung
PhotoID: 201537
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:35 PM   #22
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Nearest tracks - NS Cement Secondary, Stockertown, PA (my hometown). About a half mile from my house to the tracks. Unfortunately, this line sees only one local freight on weekdays and only uses the track closest to my house twice a week. Lately I've been trying to make an effort to photograph this line more, which should prove to be worth it since it uses older power and passes through some photogenic areas.

No Railpictures photos yet, so RRPA will have to do:
http://ssw9662.rrpicturearchives.net...aspx?id=671552
http://ssw9662.rrpicturearchives.net...aspx?id=784154


Nearest mainline - NS Lehigh Line, Phillipsburg, NJ/Easton, PA (5 miles or so). About 30 trains use this line daily, photo ops are fairly decent.

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©



Other locations of interest and places that I try to visit regularly:

Bethlehem, PA (a little over 15 miles):

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

Image ©
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Emmaus, PA (~25 miles)

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©



Scranton, PA (60 miles)

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©



Harrisburg, PA (100 miles)

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©
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