Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

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B&M 1227
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by B&M 1227 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:07 pm

Not that anyone here trespasses on railroad property, because they don't. Nor do they stand in or near the gauge for the shot, because no one here is guilty of that. But I think the obligatory "expect a train on any track at any time" should come up sooner rather than later.

I don't doubt that you got the heads up from the engineer that SEPO has exclusive authority on the Worcester main, or that the G&U doesn't run on weekends. The NYSW Utica incident is a fresh enough reminder that things can go from normal to very bad in an instant. All it takes is some intrepid young teenager popping the brake wheel, and you have a 131 ton plastic pellet hopper careening down a mile of street running, over a state highway, and into Utica Station claiming a NYC 0-6-0 as a victim but amazingly no human injury. And then there are stories of kicking cars onto a poorly secured cut of cars (Rotterdam Jct), or miscommunications resulting in no handbrakes, ultimately leading to free rolling unsupervised equipment.

So, it's been said. Be safe. Yeah, we're all good at finding trains, but please don't be in the foul of equipment, even on that rusty siding that only gets a car every 6 months.
Did we ever hear a music sweeter than the one that thrills, as it floats along the Deerfield, as it echoes o'er the hills.
How we watch that little engine as it stalks across the plain; was there ever music sweeter, was there ever sight completer, than the coming of the train?
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ExCon90
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by ExCon90 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:57 pm

Not only that, it's important to be always conscious of the "second-train syndrome." It's easy to become so absorbed in the passing of some not-to-be-missed movement (or in gaining TV facetime by the tracks, if you're a Senator from Connecticut) that you get a nasty surprise from a train of whose approach you were completely unaware.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Jeff Smith » Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:52 pm

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politic ... -1.1762281" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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BandA
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by BandA » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:02 am

I had a mama bear (with two small cubs) mock charge me. She made a huffing/puffing sound, a whiny cry sound like a cat and took a step towards me. She sported a surreal red nylon "dog" collar. I was confident since I could step inside and close the glass door that would surely protect me. She walked back into the woods and I collected the bird feeders intact.

Once a bear cub came within three feet. It was >10PM in Baxter State Park in Maine. I was noisily eating Campbell's Chunky Mediterranean Vegetable Soup. I reached out to pat the nice doggy on the head...not a doggy.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Cosmo » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:38 pm

I had a similar encounter with a skunk... a TEENY-weeny little skunk about THIS big! *holds hands inches apart.)
I saw one of my cats in the back yard around evening and he seemed to be "alerted" to something which I thought was my OTHER cat... NOPE! It were a SKAWNK!
Well, turns out I was WAY more concerned with the skunk than he was of me (THANKFULLY, as I was WELL within range of his primary weapon!) but he was busy grubbing up diner, so I pretty much let him be.
Since he was neighborly enough to hang around a while, I ran my backyard train for him. He was quite impressed! :-D
He was a pretty neat little guy.
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arthur d.
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by arthur d. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:39 pm

Ridgefielder wrote: That said, Eastern black bears aren't grizzlies. Unless you get between a mother and her cubs, they're more afraid of you than you are of them. Don't bother them and they won't bother you.


Actually, there is a much anecdotal evidence that suggests black bears are more unpredictable than grizzlies. To me that translates as much more dangerous than grizzlies

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Noel Weaver » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:55 pm

Cosmo wrote:
BandA wrote:I had a mama bear (with two small cubs) mock charge me. She made a huffing/puffing sound, a whiny cry sound like a cat and took a step towards me. She sported a surreal red nylon "dog" collar. I was confident since I could step inside and close the glass door that would surely protect me. She walked back into the woods and I collected the bird feeders intact.

Once a bear cub came within three feet. It was >10PM in Baxter State Park in Maine. I was noisily eating Campbell's Chunky Mediterranean Vegetable Soup. I reached out to pat the nice doggy on the head...not a doggy.
I had a similar encounter with a skunk... a TEENY-weeny little skunk about THIS big! *holds hands inches apart.)
I saw one of my cats in the back yard around evening and he seemed to be "alerted" to something which I thought was my OTHER cat... NOPE! It were a SKAWNK!
Well, turns out I was WAY more concerned with the skunk than he was of me (THANKFULLY, as I was WELL within range of his primary weapon!) but he was busy grubbing up diner, so I pretty much let him be.
Since he was neighborly enough to hang around a while, I ran my backyard train for him. He was quite impressed! :-D
He was a pretty neat little guy.
I like this story. Many, many years ago maybe back in the 1960's we had a gathering at the Sprague Building at Branford (Trolley Museum) and most of our gathering was outside the building. We saw a fairly small critter floating around our gathering and some of the guys starting throwing bits of sandwiches and stuff its way and it came right up to us and said "hello" in a very non stinky way. The women were terrified but we were having a good time. Skunks are generally very tolerant of humans if humans are not threatening. They can even be domesticated as pets but it would not be my kettle of fish. I love my cat and she would not get along with any other critter with four legs no matter what.
As for black bears when I lived in Albany and worked out of Selkirk I used to take a ride up to the Adirondacks from time to time. The hamlet of Long Lake which is right in the heart of the Adirondacks is known for its black bear population and a big attraction during the 1990's was the landfill. One year my mother flew up from North Carolina for a week or so in New York State. I took her for a ride up to Long Lake one afternoon and after a good dinner we went to the landfill. Her question was why are we going here? I did not tell her anything but soon after we arrived we saw our first bear not far away and she was amazed and awed to say the least. I took video which I still have of the bears and one panned shot showed a total of 23 of them and not one threatened us in any way. At one point she was maybe 15 feet away from me and one walked right by between us. To say the least it was a delightful and very entertaining evening. We were not the only ones there either, there was a good number of cars in the parking lot as well as an armed attendant just in case. He was as relaxed as the rest of us were. You would not behave this way in the mountains of Glacier Park with the grizzlies. I would tend to give them a very wide berth.
In short the biggest dangers usually come from the things you do not see rather than the things you do see. Wild animals are WILD, enjoy watching them but LEAVE THEM ALONE.
Noel Weaver

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Cosmo
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Cosmo » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:36 pm

"In short the biggest dangers usually come from the things you do not see rather than the things you do see. Wild animals are WILD, enjoy watching them but LEAVE THEM ALONE.
Noel Weaver

Noel Weaver"

Roger that!
While, not rail fanning necessarily, but in an inhabited area down South, I came across one of those "poison ropes."
Not a copperhead, and rather smallish for a cottonmouth, but having the distinctly diamond-shaped head of a viper.
Fortunately I spotted him well in advance of my approach and got just close enough to check him out. Seems he was enjoying the warmth of the pavement path he was smack in the middle of.
I mostly only tarried to warn others not to step on him lest they suffer,... but that got old surprisingly quick. (The snake really wasn't doing much of anything interesting,) but I did not want to leave him there as it was getting dark and he was blending quite well with the blacktop in the waning light, so I found the longest stick I could find and gave him just enough tap to send him scurrying.
Off he went and off I went, neither of us worse for the experience.
"It belongs in a MUSEUM!"
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by highgreen215 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 3:13 am

Horse flies! I was walking with my young son along the ties (I know, I know, it's not recommended) of the little used Wrentham Branch in the '70s. A bunch of horse flies came directly out of a rotted tie we walked on and bit the poor kid painfully several times.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Noel Weaver » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:40 am

With reference to a rather small snake, probably a Pygmy Rattlesnake which does not get too big and are easily concealed. Their disposition is quite nasty and their venom is quite potent although they don't have as much as a larger snake. Not too many moons ago in nearby Hollywood a person looking for sometbing in an outdoor section of a local super store got nailed by one, fortunately he recovered in a local hospital. I think snakes are the biggest threat to a good day of railfanning.
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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by RussNelson » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:20 pm

CannaScrews wrote:It's the perception of risk, not the actual risk most people fixate on which is wrong. Parking on the side of a road & getting whacked by a careless driver is more prevalent than getting struck by a copperhead.
Yup. People were aghast that I walked through the South Fallsburgh O&W tunnel. Some 20 sections of roof have fallen. Probably any one would be fatal if it fell on you. But these sections are only like 20' long, and the tunnel is 1000' long, and the railroad has been abandoned for 60 years. Do the math. You're FAR more likely to get whacked by a car. 100 people a day die in car accidents in America. If a terrorist was causing it, we would be fighting a war on cars now, not terrorism.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by craven » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:44 am

Other People !

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by Hux » Mon Jul 18, 2016 7:11 pm

There are certainly rattlers in New England but the bigger concern is ticks. Aside from Lyme, they are now carrying other diseases that can be deadly. If you aren't already, arm yourself with some Deep Woods Off or other repellent.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by jwhite07 » Tue Jul 19, 2016 7:05 pm

There have been plenty of recollections on this forum of unpleasant interactions with police, usually in regard to photography and the rules thereof. Trespassing too, although you don't hear of as many admissions of that.

I have an unusual one. One very late night I was on my way back from a weekend of railfanning the then-new light rail line in Baltimore. At the time I was in college and living with my father in Newton, a little over a mile from Eliot Station on the Green Line. By the time I got back from Baltimore on Amtrak and took the Green Line out to Eliot, it was well past midnight. It was not customary for me to bother my folks and request a ride, so I was making that long walk home at zero-dark-late on some very quiet and somewhat poorly lit back streets. I was maybe a thousand feet from home when several police cars approached me and stopped, shining high beams and spotlights on me and ordering me to stop and put my backpack and camera bag on the ground. There had apparently been a report nearby of someone breaking and entering into a home garage and stealing some things, and these officers though I might be the perp. I told them where I lived - no help there as my ID at the time was a Maine driver's license. I told them where I had been, and my Amtrak ticket stubs and hotel receipt were somewhere in my backpack (I misspoke - turned out they were buried in my camera bag). So the police had me sitting on the curb while they pawed through my belongings, asking me things like why I was breathing so hard? (I dunno, hot muggy summer night, mile plus walk, being suddenly hoisted by the cops?) Where did a poor college student like me get all the fancy camera gear? (gifts and savings). You couldn't have come off the T, they don't run at this time of night (must have caught the very last train I guess). You went all the way to Baltimore to what? Ride their trolleys?!? (well, yeah...) This was before digital, so although I had shot a half dozen rolls of film, I couldn't show them any photos as proof. After a few more moments of question and answer, their sergeant comes rolling up and tells the officers I'm not their guy - he had been over staking out Eliot Station thinking the real perp might head that way. He had seen me getting off the Green Line, remembered me because I had paused to get my camera out and take a long-exposure photo of the streetcar as it departed, and saw me start walking toward the direction I was picked up at. So after maybe a total of ten not-so-enjoyable minutes I was allowed on my way, after repacking everything I was carrying, during which I finally found the ticket stubs and hotel receipts they had been digging for to corroborate my alibi. I didn't get an apology, but the officers were as courteous as they were skeptical the entire time, and I knew they were just trying to do their job, and I did thank them for being alert and out protecting the neighborhood that late night.

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Re: Unexpected Railfanning Hazards?

Post by MEC407 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:00 am

B&Mguy wrote:One thing that I have thought about a lot more in recent years has been black bears. Once upon a time when I was going up, black bears were really only able to be found deep in the woods north of Concord, NH or west of the Connecticut River. These days, bears are being sighted with the MBTA commuter rail system boundaries (Acton, Attleboro, etc...) so the chances of encountering a bear seem to have increased greatly. I'm definitely more cautious than I used to be when venturing into woods, even in the Boston area.
There have been several black bear sightings this summer in densely-populated suburban neighborhoods in Scarborough and South Portland. Experts blame it on the extremely dry spring and summer we've been having — less natural food in the woods, so the bears are forced to dine on bird feeders, garbage cans, etc.
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