Fanning in the age of Coronavirus

Posted by Dave Lustig
on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably realized you’re not doing as much train watching since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns, distancing, and mandatory face masks are the new normal in many parts of our nation.


While this inconvenience is certainly not important compared to our health, on a personal level, it’s something most of think about. And miss. We’re also so done cleaning our equipment and sorting our photos and hearing comments from well-meaning loved ones. “I’m sorry you can’t go out and watch trains.” Grrrrr.


There is, however, another way to enjoy the hobby. Not as fun as being there, but it’s still better than watching reruns on television.


The Internet. For every one of us who wanders through it, there are many others that do not. There are scads of websites that display thousands and thousands of photos, as well as a multitude of others that have both modern and vintage movies. Want to find out about the development of the Pennsylvania’s 4-4-4-4 T1? Do a search. It’s out there. Or Alco knock-offs in Russia? Just a few keystrokes away. Almost everything can be found. Just turn up the speakers, sit back, and enjoy. One of my favorites for high-quality railroad photography is Center for Railroad Photography & Art. There are hundreds more.


These sites are also great to study the photographs themselves and see what tips you can pick up to improve some of your work.


There are also a variety of railroad-related chatrooms that cater to not only to railroads in general, but Class I’s, specific parts of Class I’s, regionals, short lines, and industrials.


No, the internet will not replace the fun of being trackside and watching your favorite railroad at work, but it is a suitable short term replacement until we can again go out unfettered to enjoy the hobby.


I certainly know, I’m a close earshot away from Union Pacific’s Coast Line here in California. Many employees are furloughed, carloadings are down, and passenger trains are annulled or shortened, but they are still out there…and will be when we can safely return.



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