As a writer, This year has been a rather busy one for me, and now there’s yet another assignment to add to the mix. Effective with the August issue, I am now a columnist for Railfan & Railroad magazine. Titled “Departures,” my monthly column replaces that of the late editor emiritus, Jim Boyd, at the front of every issue.
So just what is Railfan & Railroad, or for that matter what the heck is a railfan?
To be a railfan is to be someone who has a passion for railroads. While some railfans also work in the rail transportation industry, the vast majority of them simply like railroads. This nterest finds its expression in many ways, ranging from riding trains to collecting rail-related items to making photographs of railroads. These passions can range from casual interest to true obsession. There are people, for example, who are compelled to ride every foot of track they can, even if it means waiting for rare passenger train detour movements or chartering a train. There are people who collect books and ephemera to the extent that their houses begin to resemble the closing scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as the ark disappears into a seemingly endless government warehouse of boxes stacked to the rafters. There are people who will, with less than a week’s notice, book a flight to go see and photograph the last run of a once common locomotive on an about-to-be-closed industrial track. Railfan & Railroad is a magazine that specifically caters to the railfan community, in all its geeky glory.
Indeed, “Departures” is a column specifically aimed at highlighting these sort of high-geek raifan acitivites. The column is an exploration of the wide variety of activities that make up this diverse hobby, from the sober and academic to the amusing and absurd, and always just a tad obsessive. I encourage you to pick up a copy, and let me know what you think.