It starts with the ringing of at a grade crossing.
Then, there’s sound of a whistle blowing in the distance. It’s coming closer. Long, long, short, long – indicating the train is approaching a grade crossing.
The train is now within distance to be photographed. And with that, the snapping of the shutter can be heard,
As the train moves closer, I continue snapping pictures. It it’s a long freight train, I can easily take 20 pictures of the locomotives and whatever freight it’s pulling. It’s not just the locomotive that’s worth documenting; it’s the different types of cars and the different flags.
Flags are a railfan term referring to the different railroad companies painted on the different cars. While there are only four Class I railroads in America – Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific – part of the fun is finding fallen flags, railroads that no loner exist.
Take Norfolk Southern, for example. A railfan is likely to see cars from the Norfolk and Western Railroad and from Southern Railways, two lines that merged in 1982.