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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Railfans - the next gen


Date: 03/16/23 15:18
Railfans - the next gen
Author: dwatry

As a boomer railfan, I have heard other boomer railfans ask "Where will the next generation of railfans will come from?".   In the view of some - kids today just aren't interested in trains.  Well I had an experience today that shows that is just not true!  Kids who are exposed to trains like them, and are as inquisitive and probably more knowledgeable than we were at their age.   I was standing on the MBTA platform at West Medford MA, waiting for an afternoon parade of MBTA commuter trains and Amtrak Downeasters on the Lowell line, and 2 young boys on bikes (maybe 12?) rode up and asked me if I knew when the MBTA track geometry train would be going by!   I chatted with them a bit, and it was clear they keep a pretty close eye on the trains on their MBTA line.  I never did see the track geometry train, but it was good to see that kids are still riding their bikes down to the local station to check out the trains, just like we did.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/23 17:30 by dwatry.




Date: 03/16/23 16:13
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: bob01566

That's great Duncan - neat photo and story.
I assume you gave them the URL for your website too?

Bob
nerrp.com



Date: 03/16/23 16:27
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: dwatry

Bob - Ya know, I forgot to do that! 



Date: 03/16/23 16:36
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: erielackawanna

Exactly what I was doing... bike down to the train staiton in Oradell, watch the commuter trains.



Date: 03/16/23 16:39
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: goneon66

when i was 12 yrs old i would of had NO idea what a track geometry car was.  

pretty sharp 12 yr olds and nice to hear about their interest in trains............

66



Date: 03/16/23 19:04
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: ironmtn

goneon66 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> when i was 12 yrs old i would of had NO idea what
> a track geometry car was.  
>
> pretty sharp 12 yr olds and nice to hear about
> their interest in trains............
>
> 66

Second both of those motions. Agree - I wouldn't have had the faintest idea at age 12 (or even for a number of years thereafter) what a track geometry car was. I remember when I saw my first Sperry car at about age 13 or 14, and was captivated by it - but knew nothing about it. No internet then of course. I headed to the library, and got my hands on as many old Trains  magazines as the librarian would let me have (and discovered the annual index in the process), and read and read and read (the old fashioned way) until I found info on the cars. And when I did, I was awed.

I'd say that the hobby is in pretty good shape for the future with two boys like that. And the more I encounter younger fans even older than those two boys, the more I'm convinced of it.

MC



Date: 03/16/23 22:14
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: wa4umr

I remember chasing trains on my bike when I was a kid.  They did some switching about a block and a half from where I lived.  I would chase them from one siding to the next.  

When the L&N would bring The General to Louisville, I would chase it also.

John



Date: 03/17/23 03:25
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: dschlegel

Great discussion!

Here in eastern PA I see a lot of young railfans hanging out trackside, and like the kids you encountered they often know way more than you would expect.

One other note, we have a large population of Mennonite families that farm in our area and it’s neat how many are railfans, young and old. A few weeks ago while walking my dogs I struck up a conversation with a kid who had ridden his bike from about 10 miles away to watch trains for an hour before heading home to the family farm.

I think we have no worries about the future of railfanning!

Dan

Posted from iPhone



Date: 03/17/23 05:28
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: Peter_Hawtrey

goneon66 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> when i was 12 yrs old i would of had NO idea what
> a track geometry car was.  
>
> pretty sharp 12 yr olds and nice to hear about
> their interest in trains............
>
> 66

This doesn't surprise me when you look at the quality of education in Massachusetts schools compared to red states.



Date: 03/17/23 11:15
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: rrman6

And if they have cell phones, hope they use for photos and their own safety  ONLY, and not be glued to them like many that age are nowadays.  These kiddos in the photo might even be conversable concerning trains and railroading in general.  Power to them if that's such!



Date: 03/17/23 11:41
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: DJ-12

The younger generation connects to each other via social media in a way most boomers can’t even fathom. Whereas everyone Genx and older had access to local folks in the field that might be helpful, that info rarely circulated. Often it was very short notice about a special move. Today’s fans are tracking trains headed for the Pittsburgh area via online networks often days before they arrive. Just a different way of doing things but the hobby definitely seems to be holding up.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 03/17/23 13:56
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: pbouzide

It's definitely not true. I run into very young (pre teen and teenage) railfans trackside all the time, and always have.

Still tilted strongly to boys, but I see more girls than I used to.



Date: 03/17/23 14:28
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: CCDeWeese

I am associated with two railfan groups, Austin Steam Train in Cedar Park, TX and Wabash Valley Railroad Museum in Terre Haute, IN and visit McNeil, TX the crossing of the UP (former MP/IGN) with the former SP Llano branch now owned by Capital Metro and operated by the Austin Western, a Watco property, fairly often and see young people volunteering at both sites and visiting McNeil fairly often.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/23 19:48 by CCDeWeese.



Date: 03/18/23 14:50
Re: Railfans - the next gen
Author: Rathole

There are far more young railfans in my hometown of Memphis than there were when I was in my teenage years.  I think digital photography encourages more fans to get trackside.  However, as someone else noted here, many of these young fans aren't interested in the traditional slide shows than my age group (I'm 66) was/is.  Social media is their preferred method of sharing photos and info.  And had we had social media in the 1970s and 1980s, we probably would have been the same way.    



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