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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
How long I have to drive? How about a 15 hour flight from LA to Melbourne, Australia for a week of nearly total immersion in the local tram system, electric suburban operation, 30" gauge steam and heritage tramway operations? Top it off with seeing the local Blues band play near the end of one of the tram lines. That was quite a week, but then I think of the steam enthusiasts who have risked life and limb to see and ride trains through tropical fever swamps, windswept mountain passes and bandit infested boonies.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:47 pm 
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Bob Davis wrote:
How long I have to drive? How about a 15 hour flight from LA to Melbourne, Australia for a week of nearly total immersion in the local tram system, electric suburban operation, 30" gauge steam and heritage tramway operations? Top it off with seeing the local Blues band play near the end of one of the tram lines. That was quite a week, but then I think of the steam enthusiasts who have risked life and limb to see and ride trains through tropical fever swamps, windswept mountain passes and bandit infested boonies.


Sounds like you had a very fun trip, Bob!

I really miss having the W2 class trams here in Seattle, but I came to the conclusion years ago that if the opportunity presented itself, I would definitely go to see the Melbourne trams in their native habitat. I suppose if that doesn't happen, I'll have to make visits to F Market & Wharves and Memphis.*

*I've seen video taken on the W2 trams in Memphis, and they sound exactly like I remember! There goes the air compressor: chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug. At least I've got the memories.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:56 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:22 pm
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I just saw this thread and feel the need to relay two experiences from this year that have left a bad taste in my mouth, and reflect poorly on all railfans.

In February, I took the family to Strasburg for their opening weekend, which featured 90 dressed up in her GW livery. The place was crawling with railfans(me included), as was expected. About three or four young guys had video cameras and digital cameras set up around the locomotive as she waited for the first train of the day to leave. My daughter wanted her picture taken by the locomotive, so my wife tried to approach for said photo. As she approached, with our two year old in tow, one of the young guys began to yell at her that she was "f-ing" everything up because he has a youtube channel and he needs to take this video without people taking their "stupid pictures." My wife didn't back down and took the picture, but told me she felt threatened by the group of "railfans" who felt that they were the only ones entitled to any video or photos of the locomotive.

In June, we rode the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. During the ride, I took our daughter out into their combine as we approached Helmstetter's Curve so that she could look out and see the locomotive and other cars of the train. As we went through the curve, a middle aged guy dressed in NS Heritage Unit paraphernalia tried to push me out of the way, while I was holding my daughter. Of course, he had video camera in one hand and a digital camera in the other. After I didn't move, he proceeded to call me "an a-hole" and loudly complain to his companion that children shouldn't be allowed to ride the train and that children especially shouldn't be allowed to stand in the combine with parents. Come to find out from their later conversations with each other, that this was their third trip on WMSR in three days.

Most railfans I have run into are decent, respectable people. However, it is people like the ones mentioned above that give all of us a bad name. To the non-railfan public, people like this are what they base their opinions on. Just because you like trains, doesn't mean that you can "control the train" that you are their to see. Without bringing families and kids in to see trains and steam railroading, the whole hobby dies a slow, painful death, as museums and railroads dry up and close up shop.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:10 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:57 pm
Posts: 162
Location: Eastampton, NJ
The flip side of the obnoxious railfan is obnoxious behavior from the staff to the railfan. I am a railfan to the extent of riding, taking a few pictures, and learning about railroads. I am not fanatical about photography. I think I've chased something once, the day after riding. I have also applied some elbow grease in railway preservation.

I visited a tourist railroad that I will allow to remain anonymous. I rode the train with their steam locomotive, and purchased something in their gift shop, so I was a paying customer. At the time, they had an unrestored steamer in the back lot, and there was not yet a photograph of it on steamlocomotive.info. I did not want to trespass somewhere I was not wanted, so I politely asked permission to go back and photograph the locomotive. The staff member looked at me, looked at my camera, sneered and said, "suuure." I was not dressed like a fanatical railfan. I maybe had a cap with a railroad logo, but that was it. At the time I wondered about his behavior, but now I know how some people feel about any kind of railfan. The punchline is that I took my pictures from an access road and I never needed to trespass on anything. But that sneer cost them customers, me and my family and friends, and it lost any donation I could make or volunteering to work for them.

Consider an alternative. If that staff member had used the fact that I knew about the steamer in the back lot and wanted a picture as an indicator that I was interested in what they were doing, if they had been friendly and taken the time to talk to me, they could have gained a volunteer. As it is, I don't want to associate with people like the one I met.

That is why this thread really belongs on the preservation side of RYPN. How you treat you customers is important. Even if they are railfans, they still deserve respect, and some of them donate their time and money.

-Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:47 pm 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
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Location: Bucks County, PA
On behalf of decent railfans everywhere, I want to apologize to those of you who have experienced the "bad apples" of our bunch. People should to be treated that way (the self-righteousness, the indignant yelling, the "me, me, me" and lets be rude about it while we're at it. Railfans like that give the rest of us a bad name.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:21 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA - Land of Coffee
urmomsman wrote:
Most railfans I have run into are decent, respectable people. However, it is people like the ones mentioned above that give all of us a bad name. To the non-railfan public, people like this are what they base their opinions on.


bigjim4life wrote:
On behalf of decent railfans everywhere, I want to apologize to those of you who have experienced the "bad apples" of our bunch. Railfans like that give the rest of us a bad name.


Agreed.

There are 3 very important rules that all railfans should follow:

Rule No.1: be polite

Rule No.2: be courteous

Rule No.3: be considerate

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:11 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
A wise man once said, "I treat my fellow humans with courtesy and respect. Most people deserve no less; for those who don't, one's attitude can be changed accordingly."

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:07 am
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Location: Illinois
I will never understand why it is so hard for some to follow those simple statements and to share the experience as opposed to the me,me,me thing mentioned here already.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:37 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
urmomsman wrote:
I just saw this thread and feel the need to relay two experiences from this year that have left a bad taste in my mouth, and reflect poorly on all railfans.
There's nothing to prevent that. You could have easily had the same experience at an airplane museum, fan day at a baseball stadium, or at a stamp collector show, I'm sure.
A good example was what happened to me at an airshow once. I had my 1944 Army Jeep on display with some WW2 weapons laid out.
http://www.freewebs.com/willysmb44/OFM2012.jpg
I kept my drinks in a 1943-dated insulated container and while grabbing a bottle of water, I opened said container. As I fished around for a soda instead, I got a earful from a guy yelling at me to 'get the [bleep] out of the way' so he could take a photo. A pal of mine later confirmed the guy had walked up after I stepped into my display to fish out a drink. I just stood there with a 'you must be kidding me' look and let is soak in for a moment. He then told me to move by [bleep]ing [bleep] out of the way and suggested something bad would happen otherwise. I won't go into a full description of what was said, but I did make it really clear that this was MY stuff, I could walk among it all day long if I wanted, and I think suggested that I was armed to the teeth and threats were a really dumb thing to spew out to someone well armed and well trained in the military for real. I actually pulled my chair up among the weapons for a minute and drank my soda. Only then did I move out of the way and that was when a group of CAP cadets came up. I made it clear that I did it only so they could see things. The hilarious thing was the cadets crowded my display in front of the guy, who i thought would have a stroke at any point. He even went to a pal of mine from my group to complain and I was told the response was, "Really? The guy dares to stand among his own stuff? Wow, what nerve, do you want me to shoot him?" Snickers followed from others in my group, of course. The guy eventually ambled off, i have no idea if he ever got his shot, nor do I care. The sad part is if he'd just asked, I would have been fine with getting out of his way.
My point? Jerks will be jerks. Some of them will be into trains, some will be into other stuff. You can't fix a jerk (well, maybe with a crescent wrench to the head, but the law might have issues with that...)

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:57 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Randolph R. Ruiz wrote:
Circular Firing Squad much?

"Railfans" are not the problem, myopia is.

I stopped self-identifying as a "railfan" a long, long time ago as my interests became more specifically focused on history and preservation. I realize though that I really am a railfan, and so is pretty much everyone else here. Unfortunately, we have abandoned this moniker because some of our fellow fans embarrass us. In all of the rants and complaints here, I hear hints of shame. Instead of ceding the name "railfan" to those we don't respect, we could show that being a railfan is not something to be ashamed of. We might even find it easier to "convert" more of our guests.


p51 wrote:
My point? Jerks will be jerks. Some of them will be into trains, some will be into other stuff. You can't fix a jerk (well, maybe with a crescent wrench to the head, but the law might have issues with that...)


I've been of the opinion that too many of us behave poorly and even started a thread on the subject some time back.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=33046

However, these comments by R. Ruiz and L. Bishop brought home how much of what we deal with is a lack of respect for us and our interest, and what may be a double standard.

Let's pick one example to start, and an easy one--sports fans. Not even the most extreme or obnoxious rail enthusiasts would be this crazy:

http://www.whylegends.com/wp-content/up ... s-Fan1.jpg

http://fseat.com/wp-content/uploads/201 ... fans03.jpg

The fat guy with "U S" on his body is particularly ugly.

http://thechive.com/2012/06/05/for-bett ... 20-photos/

Nobody bats an eyelash at these clowns, though; they are just considered "enthusiastic," and people have fun with them.

Then there are the Star Trek and Star Wars fans:

http://www.fmlftw.com/wp-content/upload ... parade.jpg

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... iding.html

http://www.oddee.com/_media/imgs/articl ... r-trek.jpg

Talk about permanent ink:

http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/users16/w ... 677051.jpg

I think most of us would think at least some of these people to be a bit extreme, if not actually nuts. However, the sports industry and the entertainment industry don't shun them, indeed they encourage strong fandom. What happens with us? We find that we who actually work in the business have to keep our enthusiasm hidden. We find that we are actively discouraged by the companies whose operations hold our interest. Some seem to actively discourage a study of their past and their heritage. In some cases the corporate angle seems to be absolutely crazy about dealing with us (think of how a major carrier typically wants a minimum $200 million insurance policy for an excursion, and may even prohibit said operations outright as a matter of policy), yet will gladly handle hazardous materials that ultimately can be a real trouble source, and will not even plan properly for something that can happen (someone posted here that a railroad that had a horrible accident that killed scores from a freight train derailment carried only $25 million in insurance).

In short, it's a double-standard we have to deal with. I honestly don't know how to get around this sort of thing. It seems that even the best and hardest working rail heritage groups can be and are dismissed as "guys playing with big Lionel trains" (just one of the disparaging remarks made by trail people about the volunteers of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, and also likely said of the people on the Adirondack Scenic, too). We have also had a case where a Class I road not only has an adamant no-steam policy, not even to allowing a locomotive to be moved on its own wheels while in tow, but that said road would not even allow an exemption when a proposal was made for a short ferry move from a locomotive's home road to another a relatively short distance away--and that this move had apparently been approved by local railroad management, at least partially because some of the employees on this Class I road also volunteer on at least one of the heritage roads, and thus they and the locomotive were a known quantity, but that wasn't enough, either!

In short, as I've said it before, "We don't get no respect, no respect at all!"

(Thanks, Mr. Dangerfield.)


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:08 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
I remember one observer of the preservation scene commenting that many railway and trolley museums started out as "12 inches to the foot model railroad clubs". In the book Trolley Car Treasury, there was a line: "The harried, first-things-first aspect of a trolley museum [in the mid-1950s] give it the look.....of an oddly specialized dump." The better ones have moved forward, with visitor amenities, docents, collections policies and archival programs to be more like traditional museums and less like a place that only a hard-core railfan could love.
Comparing the railroad industry of today to the entertainment industry points up how railroading has changed. A hundred years ago, the railroad station was the hub of activity for most towns. Railroads competed for passenger business. As late as the 1960s, there were many stations that still had an agent or operator on duty, ready to answer questions and maybe even tell some stories to interested young people. Today, the railroad is considered a nuisance by the general public and is mostly out of sight, out of mind. There are some companies that honor their heritage, but others just want to do their business, keep a low profile and show no interest in anything but the quarterly financial report. On the other hand, the entertainment industry (and that includes professional and major college sports) lives by the number of people who watch or listen to its productions and for radio and TV, buy the sponsor's products.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3031
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
For me personally; I don't care what passer-bys think of me chasing a train anymore.

When I was a kid in school, I could name tractive efforts, boiler pressures and build dates not RBI's or Heisman Trophy winners.

I got poked fun at like most did, but as an adult I could care less anymore.


Been there myself, but those people aren't the problem. The problem people are the ones who want your railroad for a trail, who want your railroad gone because they think it ruins the value of their houses or development, who don't want to let you run a steam locomotive or a passenger train on their railroad, who are afraid of you because of a perceived problem with insurance when the reality is that hazardous materials can be a greater real danger, and the people who won't support your excursion road or heritage road because trains are from the 18th century (yes, some make that mistake) and people don't ride trains anymore.

As to the railroads that keep a low profile and just do what they do and only worry about the bottom line--well, that's been haunting them for years. We in the heritage rail business aren't the only ones who have to face people who want tracks to go away, especially if they run near some tony development. Never mind that the railroad was there over a century before, never mind that it carries 200-car coal trains with the fuel that helps keep lights on (at least for now), they don't like those trains, and wonder why they are allowed near their new house. (Yeah, dumb, I know, but it is real, I've heard about it from a Public Service Commission man who said he got complaints of that nature. I won't mention his name, but it is a great railroad name, of a huge locomotive firm in Philadelphia at one time.)


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Railfans (a dirty word)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
Regarding Melbourne W-2 trams--I feel right at home with them, they have K-35 controllers (which LARy, Hutchinson & Northern and many other properties used, and which I have worked on many times), and the trucks (sorry, Mate, bogies) look like scaled-down versions of the classic Baldwin interurban truck.

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