North American Rails - Railfan Guides
Welcome to North American Rails, a website that I designed to be a railfan guide, and to share some of my photos and knowledge gained from many railfan trips, with other rail enthusiasts and/or photographers that would like to enjoy trains like I do. I also included several site pages dedicated to general railroad information. Those other site pages are written for their entertainment value rather than educational value.
At this time, the primary focus of interest will be on the southwest areas of the country focusing first on the Seligman Subdivision of the BNSF Transcon across Arizona, then Cajon Pass between San Bernardino, CA and Barstow, CA, and finally Tehachapi Pass between Mojave, CA and Bakersfield, CA.
Information in this website will be primarily for the railroad photographer who wants to enjoy a day of photography as easily as he/she can. The southwest offers some of the most diverse scenery in the United States. From deserts to forests, flat lands to the nations toughest mountain grades, low to high elevations, and temperatures ranging from VERY hot to cold (with snow), the southwest truly has it all.
Included in this website will be photos and information to help the railfan plan a future trip to one or more of these fantastic areas, or just sit at the computer and enjoy. I will describe as clearly as possible, how to get to the exact location of most of my photos contained in this site. I will be as specific as I can when describing a photo in my captions or text so that it will be very easy for anyone else to get to the same location.
I have drawn several maps to compliment the text in describing all the areas that I have been to that will be included in the books, but alas, at this time I cannot include them on this website. It is a technical thing that I am working with Yahoo to remedy. I will include them if and when it will become possible.
Many times I have traveled to different places that I have heard of to get my own photos of trains. Some locations were of photos already published, or that I had already seen on other websites. To many times however, I would not have previous information about a perticular area. I would go to a specific area at the wrong time of day or waste to much precious time looking for a specific location. Through this website, I hope to give you enough information so that you will get as many photos as you can during your all to short vacation, or railfan time.
Several times I have met people that have gotten to a location, but did not realize that there might be another place, close by, offering more fantastic photographic possibilities. I'll never forget a gentlemen from Europe that I met once in Needles, CA. He knew that he could fly into Los Angeles, CA and then easily catch Amtraks Southwest Chief to Needles, CA, but had no idea how to get to some of the other great locations just outside of town. I happened to meet him at the depot, and that is were he had been for the last three days. That's ok, but he had so much better variety of photo possibilities less than 15 miles away! He told me had thought of renting a car, but was afraid that he might get lost in the desert. I knew right then, that I had to get this website up and going.
Other pages on this website will be dedicated to railroad interests other than just knowing where to go to get great photos at specific locations. I have a large collection of photos of engines with a special paint job, or are a one of a kind unit, or something special about them. This also includes freight cars that I have seen in my travels. If it had an unusual load, or weathering, I got a photo, and included them on those site pages.
I also am a Model Railroader that models the Illinois Terminal as if it never was purchased by the Norfork Western back in 1982. I model both the actual history, and what would've happened if it were to have become a major railroad today. I have a site page dedicated to that subject as well. Included on that site are photos of my models of the Illinois Terminal in their original paint, and my "freelanced" IT paint scheme. There are also photos of some of my models of other railroads, and a few photos of models created by other friends.
I also included two seperate site pages dedicated to a collection of black and white photos of steam engines that I was given. I am working on making those photos as good as I can without altering them to much. They were photos sometimes taken in the 40's or 50's and I would like to keep them as true to their original style as possible.
Since they are not my photos, I will not be offering them for purchase. Also some of the photos had the photographers name or collection identified on the back of the photo itself. I will give that photographer credit for the photo when that occured. At no time will I ever claim any of those early black and white steam photos as my own.
As you view my photos, you will notice that I didn't make up a title for any of my photos, but instead have a series of numbers for each title. Those numbers are how to identify that photo if you would like to purchase one. You might also notice that some of them have a "f" in the front of their number series. When the "f" appears, that identifies that photo as one of my photos that was on film, and had to be scanned to be viewed on this website. That is why some of them might seem not quite as sharp as my digital photos. Many of those photos were taken with a cheaper, older camera, and when the photographer (me), was just starting to learn how to photograph trains.
I would also like to give credit to the many books and magazines that I have read over the years that I pulled some of my information for the text and photo captions from. That includes Model Railroader and Trains magazines from Kalmbach Publishing, CTC Board magazine by Hyrail Publications, The Railroad Press by TRP Publications, Extra 2200 South, and Diesel Era magazines.
I do hope that you enjoy my website and that it gives you the needed information to help make a future railfan trip as productive as possible.
I do hope that this website becomes a valuable tool to assist you in having a great time as you add to your own collection of photographs. It is not intended to be a complete guide to every possible photo location, but rather a general suggestion demonstrating places that I have been at. No implication is ever made that every good location will be mentioned, or that once there, you are guaranted perfect photos. Within safe guidlines, exploration of better angles is encouraged. With your own talent and personal judgement, new photo possibilities will constantly be found.
Remember also that to get many of described locations, you will be frequently on railroad property. Act accordingly. I will NEVER promote illegal acts or actions that risk your personal safety. I will never condone climbing on railroad equipment to get a better angle. Stay off engines, cars, signals, bridges, or any other devise, and if at all possible, do not walk across any railroad tracks.
If you ever do get approached by any railroad personel, please be courteous and respectful especially if you are on their property.
Many times I have been asked if any of my photos were for sale. I didn't want to get into that part of the business until now. I changed my mind because I believe that this website will make that very easy. Please visit the PURCHASING PHOTOS page if you would like to purchase any of the photos. Do not forget though that all photos are copyrighted and can not be used for any reason without the expressed written permission of the photographer.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts. The railroad community has some of the friendliest people that I have ever met, and I look forward to meeting some of you that have visited this site as I am gathering additional photos and information for North American Rails.
North American Rails - Railfan Guides