Departures

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 CragheadAlexander 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.

The Color of Work

January 17, 2019

The Color of Work

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.

Commuter Rail: Sink or Swim

December 20, 2018

Commuter Rail: Sink or Swim

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.

Smarter Passenger Rail? Start With Service

November 20, 2018

Smarter Passenger Rail? Start With Service

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.

Finding New Focus

October 20, 2018

Finding New Focus

The next time you feel stuck in a rut, consider taking on a project special to you. It may surprise you how much you’ll value the decision later.

The Alco From Space

September 19, 2018

The Alco From Space

There’s a certain delight in knowing the futuristic MLW-Bombardier LRC was powered by an Alco prime mover design that dated back to 1949.

Opportunities All Around You

August 15, 2018

Opportunities All Around You

Ignore limitations, self-imposed or otherwise. Try new things. You may just find a way to enjoy this hobby you hadn’t noticed right in front of your eyes.

Thinking Outside (and Inside) The Box

July 15, 2018

Thinking Outside (and Inside) The Box

If you are interested in sharpening your creative focus, you may want to consider alternative ways to challenge yourself when it comes to railfan photography…

Indoor Railroading

December 22, 2017

Indoor Railroading

There is far more to being a railfan than being outdoors watching, photographing, or riding a train. There are many indoor aspects to the hobby, starting first and foremost with maps.

Nostalgia Up in Smoke?

October 15, 2017

Nostalgia Up in Smoke?

This is what it means to be a modern: the world of tomorrow is always better than today. Many Americans no longer believe this to be universal, yet when applied to technology, this attitude remains strong.

Obscure Heavy Metal

October 10, 2016

Obscure Heavy Metal

The appeal of Alcos is not difficult to understand. Alco’s earlier diesels, designed and produced in conjunction with GE, tended to have the same smooth, clean lines as that era’s (now much-coveted) home appliances.