Last month we asked you through our social media accounts what it was that made you a Railfan – and the response was fantastic! In the coming weeks we'll be sharing two individual tales from those that became Railfans, but in the meantime wanted to shed light on those of you that got in touch via our Instagram account - @joinrailfans:
The allure of trains in the USA was a popular reason for getting enthused by railroads at an early age and many of you got in touch to reminisce that first time seeing rolling stock in the States.
merrimackandsaco_rr recalls from near Bow Junction, Merrimack County:
“New England Southern Railroad would operate through there as they leased rights to it at the time. I'd go out, watch 2370 roll by from time to time, basically whenever I was lucky enough to see her at the crossings...”
With up to 2,300hp, it's easy to see how the power of locomotives like 2370 (pictured here running with NEGS) can make an impact. Image by William Stone Jr. CC-BY 2.5
benburt_photography04 meanwhile pinned his Railfan beginnings to being born in Chicago:
“... it’s called the railroad capital of the nation for a reason!”
Chicago used to host as many as six intercity rail terminals and nearby, the Illinois Railway Museum hosts the largest railroad museum in the USA.
The Illinois Railway Museum hosts both Steam and Diesel Locomotives 55 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Image by Sean Lamb CC-BY-SA 2.0
The size and speed of the Amtrak Downeaster inspired connor_p42dc, whose grandmother would take him down to the tracks near their home to see them roll by.
“One time, when I was about nine, the train came and the engineer had his entire torso out the window waving to me … when I noticed the speed, power and size of trains, I became a Railfan.”
The Downeaster service runs 145 miles between Boston, Massachusettes and Brunswick, Maine. Image by Bubblecuffer CC-BY-SA 3.0
Family played an important part in many of the responses, with modelling in particular being passed down as a hobby from parents and grandparents alike.
granttheant remembers the size of his grandfather's layout and his father’s liking for railroads:
“He got my brother into trains and eventually I got into trains...”
Whilst trainskc recalled his father's layout as a six-year-old. In addition to its impact on the British Railfan movement, Thomas the Tank Engine sparked interest in fans across the rest of the world. Some of you remembered playing with toys at the dinner table or seeing Thomas 'in the flesh' at event days hosted by local heritage railways and museums, something which still takes place today to inspire the next generation of Railfans.
justahillbilly777's first memory of Thomas was at the Tweetsie Railroad in North Carolina, a narrow-gauge railroad attraction. "One of my earliest memories is being on my Dad’s shoulders looking at the train during Day Out with Thomas...”
Thomas the Tank Engine first appeared in 1946, but is still known the world over by young and old Railfans alike. Image by Nicholas A. Tonelli CC BY 2.0
With Railfans spread far and wide across the globe, there are no doubt many more back-stories and tales of how those of you spotting, photographing and modelling got into railroads and railways in the first place – and we'd love to hear more of them! Get in touch with us through our socials and submit content through our web form. We'll have more stories to share in time and hope to hear more about how you became a Railfan.
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