Just what does it mean to be a railfan? In Departures, we attempt to answer this question. Geeky but cool, obsessive yet interesting, artistic yet accessible, it’s a broad hobby with something for everyone. But what does it mean to you? We’ll discuss the leading trends in photography and how they shape our approach to the craft. For the historian and the collector, we’ll explore our rich past and look ahead to the future. Join us as we embark upon exciting railway journeys and discover what draws us trackside. Learn about the fascinating people who have enlivened our hobby and make us eager to join them. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a railfan, and we’ll show you why each month!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexander B. Craghead, is the author of Departures. He is a writer, photographer, watercolorist, and self-described “transportation geek” from Portland, Oregon. His interest in trains was partially inspired by childhood stories about his great-great uncle, who worked for the Portland Traction Company, and his great-great grandfather, who worked for the Southern Pacific.
His writing and photography has appeared in Railfan & Railroad Magazine, Trains Magazine, and the National Railroad Historical Society Bulletin, and in Railroad Heritage published by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.
September 15, 2019
In the 1930s, railways across the continent began to apply sleek bodies to their steam locomotives, and some even took a gamble on new diesel technology.
August 15, 2019
Before any more pages slip off the calendar, consider the following vacation ideas that should work for everyone, railfan or not.
July 19, 2019
This quest for the largest locomotives reveals something essential about UP, a tendency toward a rugged ambition that was shaped by the West itself, and as old as the company.
May 28, 2019
As a historian, one of my favorite mental games is to imagine alternative timelines, to play a game of “What if?”
May 5, 2019
Prior to the Golden Spike, U.S. railroads were typically an extension of heavy manufacturing. They were part of the same world as steel mills, coal mines, and power plants.
March 24, 2019
For every mile of track in a famous part of a mountain pass, for every mile of record-breaking tunnel or perilously high bridge, there are tens of thousands of miles of structures that are lesser known, unsung, yet just as worth visiting.
February 13, 2019
Railways often seem to be an anachronism, an industry defined by its resistance to innovation. Especially to outsiders, it feels like a thing of the past, defined by bulky equipment, rusty metal, and slow speeds.
January 17, 2019
While cars and locomotives may sport any number of colors, to my mind it is safety orange that represents the craft of today’s railroaders.
December 20, 2018
The history of commuter rail and the development of large American cities go hand-in-hand. As cities developed into dense employment centers in the 1850s, those who could afford it began to disperse to the bucolic fringes.
November 20, 2018
If we really want to have quality passenger rail, we need to spend less time dreaming of technological fixes and financial shortcuts, and more time providing what used to be the key strength of American railroading — service.