Railfanning.org formally launched 20 years ago today. The story of how it started is quite funny.
Some years ago, when I became interested in photography, I started taking pictures of trains. At one point, I thought I had taken the greatest picture ever of a train.
This was before digital cameras, so I took my photos to be developed and digitized. I emailed one of the pictures to a train magazine, fairly certain they would love it so much they would put it on the front cover.
This was an era when people responded to emails.
I don’t know how to say this nicely, but their response was slightly less enthusiastic about the quality of the picture. Not only did it not make the front cover, but I’m also pretty sure the editor immediately deleted the photo and blocked my email.
You want to know what I did? Today, I’d probably just publish it on Instagram.
But, in my day, we didn’t have Instagram. So, I said (to myself), “you guys aren’t the only game in town.”
In fact, they were the biggest, and no one wanted to publish my train pictures. So, I decided to launch my own website.
I published some of my crappy photos. The site suddenly took on a life of its own. When I launched my own business, I made this site, Railfanning.org, a centerpiece of my business.
Am I going to retire because of this site? No. But, it’s something I built from scratch, and it’s something I own.
No matter where I worked or what life threw my way, I have turned to this site. Because it was mine. People have turned to me as an expert, and I’ve written several books because of this site, and maybe I have a few more in the works.
If nothing else, it just goes to show you that if you put something on the web and keep it there for long enough, people will think it’s true.
I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have these past two decades. Here’s to 20 more years!
This was adapted from my remarks to Denison University ReMix in 2019.