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.

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About Todd DeFeo 364 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.