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Edition #233  November 1, 2014

I Guess I Am A Railfan

Photographer: Candace Pitarys

                                                                                   Photo by Candace Pitarys

I Guess I Am A Railfan

I guess I am a railfan. At least by default. For more than two decades I have happily accompanied my husband George on many trips through a good part of the US and Canada. And for more than 25 years I have been employed as an operator, and then dispatcher on the railroad. I think you have to at least secretly like the railroad to put up with much of the hardship that goes along with being employed there. I've shot GP-30's in Kansas, Hi nosed U18-B's in Georgia, and F-40's in Nova Scotia. I only know these salient facts because George told me that's what they were... but I did know where I was!  And he often tells me I have seen and shot things that many railfans have not seen.

So, I guess I am a railfan.

Still, I have to admit that to me, and engine is just another engine (unless it's an F unit, but we'll get to that). I can't tell the difference between a GE and an EMD. I can't recite a single roster, nor do I really know where specific railroads operate, unless they are related to my work territory. I really like chasing trains, especially plows (we are after all native Mainers), and I really hate waiting for trains. But George says he does too, so I guess that's another checkmark on the I'm a railfan checklist.

Anyway, one kind of engine I CAN identify is an F unit. And I really like those. Especially the ones on the NS business train. So in August 2011, I heard the train would be operating to Ayer, Mass. This happened to be the district I was dispatching at the time. I knew it had F's, and I knew I wanted to take a picture of it, George wanted to too. But unfortunately for him, on the day it was coming he was 600 miles away shooting the Ontario Southland! So, after work I ventured out to a spot we'd been to before, and set up to shoot the train. I figured I knew what time he would be there. As is often the case business trains make unscheduled stops, so the time didn't work out as I had figured. Two hours after I thought he'd be there, he still hadn't shown. I was talking to George on the cellphone, and told him I was ready to bail. He told me that I should know that waiting was part of the railfan game, so I stuck it out. Three hours in the car sitting atop that bridge. The light was fading fast when the train finally showed up, and I finally got my shot, and too late to chase. It had been a long lonely wait for one shot, but


I guess I am railfan.

Candace Pitarys

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