What is it about railfanning?

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.

Todd DeFeo
About Todd DeFeo 236 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and The Travel Trolley.