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, illustrator, 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 have 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.

Time Marches on for Towers

July 15, 2022

Time Marches on for Towers

The systematic elimination of railroad signal towers was so gradual, we almost didn’t notice until it was too late.

The Once and Future Pacific Electric

June 9, 2022

The Once and Future Pacific Electric

While the last passenger trains ran in 1961, California’s colorful Pacific Electric Railway remains a fan favorite to this day.

Twilight of the Urban Switching Districts

May 15, 2022

Twilight of the Urban Switching Districts

The last vestiges of urban railroading are disappearing across the country as industrial districts are gentrified and transformed, and images of freight trains running down the middle of busy streets becomes a distant memory.

Hyperloop Fantasy vs. Rail Reality

April 9, 2022

Hyperloop Fantasy vs. Rail Reality

Long after the hyperloop has faded into the graveyard of yesterday’s fantasies, the efficiency of steel wheels on a steel rail means railways will still be around, doing their jobs day in and day out.

Cog Railways

March 15, 2022

Cog Railways

A curious construction of the 19th century, cog railways in North America were built strictly to carry tourists for profit, unlike their European cousins.

The Inland Empire

February 8, 2022

The Inland Empire

Washington’s Inland Empire was the prime battleground of major transcontinental railroads seeking to link the Northwest to the rest of the nation.

Mixed Signals

January 15, 2022

Mixed Signals

From their advent as a mixture of movable wooden signs and flags until the latest high-tech computer-controlled installations, signal designs often varied from company to company.

Against All Odds

December 8, 2021

Against All Odds

The Coos Bay branch, like Stampede Pass, reminds us that sometimes against all odds, hopes become reality, and the future may still surprise us.

What is Historical, Anyway?

November 8, 2021

What is Historical, Anyway?

What does historical actually mean? Sure, it seems safe to say that the last three decades of the 19th century may be historic… but what about the last three decades of the 20th?

The Annual Alco Issue

October 8, 2021

The Annual Alco Issue

We hope you enjoy this issue, and let us know if you’d like us to continue this annual tribute to Alco diesels.