Time was when you wanted to watch trains you went to a railroad crossing near you, or at least to a railway near you. I can remember doing this with my grandfather over 60 years ago.

The Internet has changed all that, of course. Nowadays you surf to YouTube, find the Virtual Railfan site and you have a choice of 20 odd railcams where you can sit and wait for the next train.

Most cams are in the US, but there is one interesting one on the CPR mainline at Revelstoke BC. One of my personal favorites is the Strasburg railcam, along with a companion camera at Paradise PA. You can see steam locos depart the Strasburg station and later on run around the train at Paradise for the return journey. At Paradise, you can also see Amtrak trains zip by at over 100MPH. Two different worlds.

Another popular webcam is situated at the historic Santa Fe station in La Plata Missouri – about 300 miles west of Chicago. The Amtrak Southwest Chief passenger trains stop there twice a day, and after they leave, about 70 freight trains pass by the station. There is a lively chat group as well with plenty of good-humored banter.

A third webcam is in Deshler, Ohio where an east-west double-track line passes through a north-south single-track line on a level crossing called a “diamond.” That one has lots of freight action on both lines, and you can see what remains of a historic Baltimore and Ohio passenger station that once served both routes. Sadly the station is crumbling away.- its dual passenger platforms haven’t been used since 1971.

Virtual Railfan has all those camera locations so you would never be at a loss to see a train rumbling by. It’s a nice thing to have for an old railfan like me, especially since the Almonte railway line is now just an ATV trail. See you at the Depot.

Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.

One comment on “Railfanning”

  1. Hi Ray, a group of us here in Barry’s Bay have got together to restore and preserve our village station and to make it the hub for activity in town. We will never have rails outside again but there is an old time homey feel to be experienced inside.

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