Railfanning is Fun, But Safety is Key

DICKSON, Tenn. — I was catching some railfanning action here on a recent weekend.

It wasn’t long before the familiar sound of warning bells starting ringing and I hopped up and assumed the photographing position. I started snapping pictures of a westbound CSX intermodal freight.

Then, in the corner of my lens I caught an approaching car. For a moment, I though the car wouldn’t stop. The driver pulled within what seemed like inches — it was more like feet in reality — of the tracks. Within seconds, the freight whizzed through the grade crossing.

While the driver obscured my camera’s view of the approaching freight, I wasn’t all that worried. What concerned me more was that I almost saw what would most likely have been a fatal wreck.

So, I began thinking about how dangerous trains are. There’s no doubt about, trains are deadly, if we’re not careful.

And that doesn’t only apply to motorists, but also to railfans.

I always play it safe when I take to a trackside location to railfan. Safety is my — and should be all railfans’ — No. 1 priority. For example, if you’re watching trains from a railroad crossing, abide by the law and stay behind the gates.

Yes, safety should come before picture quality. Pictures, are a nice plus.

It’s no secret that a fully-loaded freight train takes about a mile and a half to stop. Needless to say, a freight isn’t going to stop for a careless motorist, much less a careless railfan.

So, the moral of the story is: Play it safe. Live to railfan another day.

Good pictures are a plus of railfanning, but what’s the benefit if you’re not around to enjoy them, not to sound hackneyed.

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.