• My Thoughts on Railfanning and Railroading

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by lakeshoredave
More than ever, railfanning and railroading is a man’s game now. That’s right, man’s game I said. It a man’s game because you don’t have the resources you used to have in the past with all the yahoo lists and people to help you out. No longer can you call up dispatchers, etc and get lineups like you could. Gone are the days when people who ran railroad websites are dropping off pizzas in Selkirk for the employees. You find out when you move away from home how much of a man’s game railfanning really is. When you grow up on a route like the Lakeshore Lines where trains run like Deion Sanders in his prime, its easy. When you are deep in the heart of the Bone Valley with 1 ear tuned to Romey and the other one tuned to a scanner saying go to Plant City 1 second and Lakeland Jct the next, it’s a man’s game your playing. In this era of railfanning, you can watch people rise from young foamers to railroaders in just a few short years. They are now playing a man’s game. Gone are the days where they could slam a Surge and an ice cream sando waiting for the 4 eastbounds between Guilderland and Hoffman’s….now that Surge has turned into a Vault and that ice cream sando is now a turkey sando, and they are working on that 3rd eastbound with 40 minutes to work, behind 2 short timers who are trying to get home and see their families. Model railroading and reading railroad magazines is now a man’s game too. Look at these layouts, photos, and information dropped these days. Look at the hobby shops out there, like Colonial Photo and Hobby in my former residence of Orlando. Their selection of magazines is unreal. They are playing a man’s game. The people in the hobby shop know trains and railroading. That is something you would not have seen years ago. They know the traffic patterns on FEC in Daytona Beach and Melbourne like they know their cousins. They know towns like Folkston and Callahan like they know their next door neighbor’s dirty laundry. See my participation in railfanning mailing lists, discussion boards, chatrooms, and online activities might be as celebrated as a Canadien caller discussing hockey on an American sports radio show, but I’ve found my place because it’s a man game out there. I know when I go home if I go to the tracks at the right time and the right place, I will get my UPS trains, my ethanol trains, my run through Powder River Basin coal trains, my Q090 and I will be doing it my way, and like the railroads are now. Look at the guy who developed Railcom in the 901. Talk about playing a freaking man’s game. What a smart man to develop an antenna that is tuned to the railroad freq. How about the railfan in Rochester, New York who developed that online scanner feed? He’s in the same category as someone like Eminem in my book. Growing up that guy was never given a chance to be an impact player, but he knew this is a man’s game, he perservered, he cashed his lottery ticket, and now he’s on top of this man’s game. Enjoy this hobby or career, whatever you’ve made it to be in your life, but just remember, it’s a man’s game your playing these days when it comes to railfanning or railroading.
  by Aji-tater
I bet his head is hurting this morning - he must have had a LOT of brewski's to come up with that blather! 13 times the phrase "man's game" (whatever THAT means).

And railfanning and railroading are two separate and totally different things. You can be a railfan and also be a railroader, but one is separate from the other.

Dave, make sure you don't hit the "random" lottery today!
  by lakeshoredave
i gave credit to several people and the industry in this. a couple points in this rant:

1. mans game- railroading is not an easy profession, and if you make the transition from being a railfan to become a railroader, you deserve alot of credit, and railroading is a mans game....you have to love your job because its not easy.

2. credit to railfans- i like how many of these railfans, etc have made their mark on this hobby....i respect that people like nick wilson, dick eisfeller, john focht, etc have been pioneers in this hobby. its cool to see.

3. railfanning in different spots- proves how it takes time to learn new traffic patterns, especially in this day in age with a struggling economy.

4. as for the hobby shop i went to in orlando, that place is awesome.

5. railroad magazines have to be creative these days to keep subscribers with the online era we are in.
  by RearOfSignal
Yeah, I think railfanning and railroading sucks too. :wink:

Man's game? How many of us started out in this hobby as kids?
  by 2nd trick op
While it's unfortunate that this thread started of sounding a little bit like a rant, the underlying point is a good one. I came of age during the years when almost the entire industry was at its nadir, with about a third of its mileage flirting with, or in bankruptcy, deferred maintenance and derilect property everywhere you looked. It was rare to encounter an operating railroader under the age of forty, and the roughly fourfold slash in employment since the end of World War ii meant that the emerging "baby boom" generation was a lot less likely to grow up acquainted with someone familiar with the industry. At the same time, the emergence of feminism and cultural diversity was altering the collective perception of the journalistic profession, giving rise to some of the gaffes so regularly noted in DPM's editorials in the Trains of the time.

And as any of us who have been fortunate to experience daily life on both sides of the divide can attest, being an operating railroader is a lot different, and much more demanding, than just being a railfan, and my personal belief is that the transition can be made more difficult by basic psychological conflicts that often can't be fully understood until the actual experince provides some painful enlightenment. Yet having made that point, it's also true that for some people entering the work force, a successul adaptation to these challenges is a highly-prized badge of maturity, almost as satisfying as being a police officer, firefighter, or military veteran.

Most significant of all, the industry is slowly and surely being forced into an expanded role as the primary service provider for freight, plus a limited, but growing and very sensitive segment of the passenger market. Those trends are driven by basic economic forces and are likely unstoppable, and sooner or later, the attention of a much larger segment of the public is likely to be directed toward the struggle to squeeze more efficiency out of a suddenly-underbuilt plant, some of it in places where options for expansion will be either limited, or very costly (The former "Water Level Route" is likely to be one of them). So to those among our number who are actually out there dealing with the pressure on a daily basis, my thanks. To any young man (or woman) considering rail employment as an answer to an uncertain future -- "Come and get it, you will be challenged!" And to the rest of us here on the sidelines, let's remember that our hobby interest is being pushed a little further into the spotlight every day, and let's always remember to put our best view forward, explain ourselves in a way that separates the fantasy from the reality, and as the old Seargeant said, "Be careful out there."