View Full Version : What are the Hazards you run across while Rail Fanning?

Ken Carr
04-18-2004, 12:58 AM
As a part time Rail Fan (I have a day job). I donít chase as much as I like. When I do I am always attempt to be safe while on the street, in the desert in and around trains. After a couple of close calls over the last two days I thought this might be an interesting Thread.
As an example yesterday when I started my chasing I climbed upon some rocks to get a better shot. I donít know what caused me to look around again but I found that I was disturbing the neighbors not one but three large tarantulas. I thought about coping a shot from another contributor (a shot of the rails and the on coming train, in this example a close up of one the tarantulaís with the train in the background). But something with eight legs and bigger than my fist and cameras was just to much for me.
Later as the day progressed and I finally found the Rail grinder that I heard on the scanner but hasnít located previously. I set up my shot near MP 315 at Sloan only to hear a faint rattle to my right, another neighbor this time a snake, far enough away to not initially cause me harm but close enough for me to be told to get away.(If only RP would let me upload that shot).
To finish off my chasin after receiving a scolding from one of the Special Agents (SA) for being to close to the right of way after receiving permission from the local trainmaster. I saw another rail fan set up at one of the local stations with his tripod on the tracks right off the main, knowing the SA was just around the corner and also fearful of what may happen I stopped to give the fan a friendly warning only to be told to mind my own business with the universal sign language and further threats.
Thus ended my day of chasin here in Las Vegas so has anyone come across hazards in their hobby of Chasing trains?

Curtis Wininger
04-18-2004, 03:40 AM
Could you send me the pictures of the local wildlife?

04-18-2004, 05:40 AM
What are the Hazards you run across while Rail Fanning?

East St. Louis. No, seriously. My head is always on a swivel anytime I'm near that area of the Metro East. Maybe it's my background, but anytime I'm out of my car, I'm always looking for an out if someone were to approach me (and sometime's the train is the out; I'd rather pay a fine for hitching a ride than taking a knife in the ribs). Knowing where you are, paying attention to your surroundings, and having an out are good suggestions while out fanning the rails.

Also, it's not really hazard, but be on the lookout to be visited by the FBI if you take pictures too close to certain military bases as one contributor to this site found out!!!!! :lol:

04-18-2004, 03:50 PM
Do a bunch fat guys making rude gestures and remarks while you're trying to shoot near the train station count as hazards? This happened to me yesterday, so I moved to another location to "fan the rails."

Ken Carr
04-18-2004, 04:29 PM
Did their brother get transplanted to Las Vegas? That sounds like the one I ran across yesterday.

Lord Vader
04-19-2004, 03:38 AM
While chasing an Indiana & Ohio Ry. passenger special this past summer, I had just finished getting a shot of the train crossing a big concrete arch bridge, I was walking through the woods back to my vehicle when I felt something hit the back of my foot. I looked back and a copperhead had tried to take a bite out of my ankle, but came away with the taste of Red Wing leather safety boot on his fangs. I had two light fang scratches in theheel of my boot along with some discoloration of the leather, which I guessed was from the venom. THAT was interesting!

E.M. Bell
04-19-2004, 03:57 AM
Snakes...I friggin HATE friggin snakes....I came with in inches of getting bit on the hand by a copper head last year while reaching for a chain saw (preparing for our annual railfan camp out)....and stepped on another one last week whilst getting this shot... http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=57808 took the shot, turned around and stepped on it...took me about 10 seconds to get the heck out of there, screaming like a women the whole way....

other hazards...hmmmm....snakes, school bus...any over the hill ass clown that cant manage to drive at least speed limit, snakes, power lines, clouds, railfans that think they know more than (Insert name of president of you fav RR here)...any road in the state of PA, snakes, railroader friends that like to toss open water bottles at you on a winter day, snakes, the yuppie father that INSIST he stop and watch the train you are waiting for with his 3 screaming, question asking concentration busting yuppie spawns from hell....oh yea, and GE's....

04-21-2004, 01:41 AM
That's easy. It's Poison Sumac.

I was trimming brush near Duncannon
on Saturday and didn't realize that some
of it was sumac because the leaves hadn't
developed. By Sunday, a rash
had appeared on my arms and face and
today it's worse. After a sleepless night
the left side of my face is swollen and the
discomfort level is very high.

I made a quick trip to the drug store this
morning for Caladryl lotion and Benadryl.
Relief may be in sight.

Personally, I'll take snakes and PA potholes
any time. :)


04-21-2004, 04:46 AM

The link is only good for another day or two. I'll post a small pic if someone tells me how in html talk.


04-21-2004, 02:01 PM
The only hazards I come across are local drunks. They don't do any harm but they just sulk around all day and drink. I've never met any dangerous wildlife while railfaning, though.

E.M. Bell
04-21-2004, 03:23 PM
Speaking of dangerous wildlife..lets not forget the kind that flys about stinging folks...

A couple of years ago, i was working as conductor on the LXOH, and we had to shove a few tank cars into a place that we went into maybe 2 or 3 times a year. I dropped down to line the switch, and about the same time i got the lock undone, a black mass of "something" angry flew out of the tie head and went after me...turned out to be a rather angry swarm of wood hornnets that had nested there.. I went running for the saftey of the loco, but wound up getting stung 14 times (may have been more) on my back and neck....good thing I am not allergic. We seem to have a larger than normal population of ticks this year to..I have found 3 or 4 on my person after going out shooting in the three weeks...

05-28-2004, 01:00 PM
Mainly just bugs and briar bushes...I've seen a few dead snakes railfanning, but it has been some time that I've come across any trully dangerous snakes, railfanning or not. I've happened upon the occasional garter snake or king snake, but I just let those go their merry way since they help keep the bug and rodent population in check.

I actually had my first run in with a special agent yesterday at one of my less commonly visited spots. He was cool though and just wanted to take a look at my ID, reminded us that technically we were trespassing (I was with an employee and railfan of the competing railroad!) but just asked us to move along as soon as we photographed what we were waiting for.

05-28-2004, 03:27 PM
I've seen a few dead snakes railfanning, but it has been some time that I've come across any trully dangerous snakes, railfanning or not.

I've never heard of a snake railfanning, let alone a dead one! :wink: I guess not just humans are attracted to trains :lol: ...I have seen birds standing along the tracks. But they don't stay when the train comes... :D

05-29-2004, 02:58 AM
...I have seen birds standing along the tracks. But they don't stay when the train comes... :D

This bird loves the EMDs: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=40156.

07-20-2004, 01:14 AM
Was so excited about getting some nice shots today I almost stepped on this guy!
A poisonous Osage Copperhead! This was a big one at about 3 feet. While nobody is on record as having being killed by one they sure can mess up your day!

07-20-2004, 01:45 PM
I sure wouldn't want to cross paths with that! :shock: