The nimby kids growing up along the ROW are tomorrow's railfans. What four year old doesn't think that a train coming through the backyard isn't pretty cool? All Mom and Dad have to do is put up a chain link fence and the kids can learn how to railfan safely.
That is so true.... I have to say, one of my first "railfan" memories was watching the LIRR trains on the way to Montauk from my great-great-aunt and uncle's backyard in Amagansett. I couldn't believe that right back behind the tomato garden was a chain link fence and then - REAL railroad trains! It was a treat to see the 1964-era equipment rolling by (I was 4 at the time!).
I really do think that the kids along the ROW are going to become railfans because you really almost can't help it!