Are you a railfan? I am!

I really love trains. Ever since I was born I have lived near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks where I get to see lots of Amtraks, BNSFs, Santa Fes, Union Pacifics and the people who work on the tracks. When a train comes and I hear the crossing bells, I run outside to our back fence where I can climb up and wave to the engineers. Sometimes my dad comes with me and we try to read all the names on the cars. It is very exciting.

Here are some cool pictures and stories about trains I have seen, and some of the things I like best about being a railfan. I hope you enjoy this page. Thank you for visiting, and remember to be safe around the rails.

Welcome to my train room!

I have lots of toys, but trains are my favorite thing to play with. I have a Brio layout with lots of wooden engines and cars that changes almost every day. And when my mom and dad painted my bedroom they built an HO layout there for me to play with using trains that my Aunt Donna sent me from Pennsylvania. My dad made a mountain, a bridge and some roads to go with it. I also like to play with Dad's N-scale trains and his garden railway. We play "City of New Orleans" together every day -- that means we make up stories and games using my trains before bed time.


Let's go to the Railfair

Have you ever stood next to a real steam locomotive? I have! In June 1999 the Railfair came to Sacramento and we went to see it. We also drove to a lot of other towns to watch steam trains driving to the fair.

One day when Dad had to go to work, Mom and I drove in the car up to Truckee and saw the Union Pacific Challenger come over the mountains. We waited a long time before it came, but then I saw it and it really had a lot of steam! We went to Colfax so Mom could take a picture. There were a lot of other railfans there, too. I tried to take some pictures with my camera, but the film got stuck. At least Mom got some pictures. The Challenger was big and black. When it tooted its whistle I got very scared and I had to run find Mom. I covered my ears. I still don't like steam whistles too much, but I think I like steamers now.

A few days later we went with Dad to see the Daylight steamer coming from Oregon. We drove all the way to Oroville and it was very hot, but at least Mom's car had air conditioning. We thought we missed the steamer so we drove to Sacramento to look for it. Then Dad said we should go back toward Oroville and suddenly we saw it! It was going very slowly at a crossing and there was a BNSF diesel helping it to go. Dad videotaped it. We went back to the Amtrak station in Sacramento and watched the train go in the yard.

The next day we went to Merced to see the old Santa Fe steamer. We waited in an almond orchard for two hours until we heard the train coming on Dad's scanner. Then Mom drove our car right next to the train for a few miles so I could see it and hear it go. It whistled at all the crossings. The steamer stopped at Riverbank and there were a zillion people there! We waited for it to leave the station.

The Railfair was a lot of fun. We stayed all day and saw a lot of steamers and diesels. We even got to take a ride on a steam train. One of my favorite things was the Operation Lifesaver booth, where I got to drive a train like a real engineer. Here is a picture of me in the booth. 

I also got to visit Thomas the Tank Engine. He's my favorite. You can learn more about him later on this page.

If you would like to see a lot more pictures from the Railfair, my dad's Web site has a lot.

This is the Union Pacific Challenger. Mom took this picture of me standing next to it when we went to the Roseville Yard open house in May. I was holding a special balloon with a UP logo on it. It popped on the bus back to the car.

This is me and the Santa Fe 3751 steamer in Riverbank. I was jumping up and down because I was so excited to see the train.


Dad and Ben take a railfan walk

One afternoon in August 1998 my dad and I took a walk together along the train tracks behind our house. It was a hot day and a long walk, but I brought my juice and Dad brought pretzels. An Amtrak train broke down in Antioch and was blocking the line, so we didn't see many trains at first.

Along the way we passed a lot of railroad junk, like old spikes and parts from telephone poles. We even found part of a broken coupler. After we had walked a mile we sat under a shady tree near where a Santa Fe freight train was waiting to go. I played in the sand and found a very old penny from 1913.

When it was time to leave I was very tired and didn't want to walk such a long way to go home. Dad kept finding surprises for me, like a bunch of old tennis balls, a golf ball and a Tigger doll that someone lost.

Suddenly the Amtrak train that had been broken got fixed and it zoomed by us. Then another Amtrak came from the other direction. And a few minutes later there were three freight trains!

By the time we got back to the street I was really tired, but then guess who we saw? Mom! She had the car and gave us a ride home. I sure was dirty after playing in the sand and taking that long walk, but it was a lot of fun.

I really like trains, but sometimes they are kind of loud.
This is one of the trains we saw on our railfan walk.

We took a rest on a bunch of old telephone poles and
had some pretzels and juice. There was ugly graffiti everywhere.


Another railfan walk

My dad said I looked like an
archaeologist — that's a big word for
someone who collects railroad junk,
I think. Look at all the cool stuff
I found.

Railroad signs are very tall so the train
crews can see them. Someday I'll be as
big as this derail sign, but maybe not
as big as the telephone pole behind it!

My pockets were pretty stuffed by the
time we were halfway done with our
walk. I had to hold up my pants to
keep them from falling down.

Did you like that last story? Good. Here's another.

We live next to the Du Pont plant. When it closed, the train people took all the old Du Pont tank cars out of the yard and all that was left were empty tracks. One day in February 1999, Dad and I went for a walk to see what was there.

The ground was very sandy and it made it hard to walk, but I kept my eyes open for cool railroad junk. The first thing we found was some old metal parts that Dad said came from a rail car. I also found a crumpled sign that tells what kind of things the tank cars are carrying.

We stopped to rest at the wye, which is a place where train engines can turn around at the Du Pont gate. Dad told me about the time he got to ride the Du Pont switcher, but I didn't get to see it because it wasn't working anymore.

We saw two freight trains. One was carrying a lot of steel coils to Pittsburg. Dad took a picture of it when it went past. I waved and the engineer gave a special toot for us on his whistle. Another train was carrying trailers and containers. We stood out of the way while it went by.

As we walked in the sand my feet were getting very tired and I had to rest. Dad said my pockets were getting too full of railroad junk and that maybe I should put some of it down. I tried to carry as much as I could, but my pants kept falling down!

We saw a bunch of empty piggyback trailer cars in the west yard of Du Pont. There was a bridge too, but Dad said we couldn't walk over it because it was only for trains to drive on and it would be dangerous for people.

By the time we got back to the car it was very hot and we were both very tired. We had walked almost two miles! I only had to leave a few things behind, but I got most of the rusty old railroad junk in my pockets back to the car. When we got home, we pulled out all the railroad junk and painted it for an art project.


Some of my favorite photos

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the many places we have gone to see trains. My dad and mom took most of them, but I can take pictures too. I have my own camera and I am learning all about how to use it. If you would like to see some of the photos that I have taken, I have a special place on Dad's train page.

We went to see the Celebrate the Century Express in Santa Rosa. It was colder than we expected, so Mom bought this shirt to keep me warm. It was too huge for me, but it fits Dad just fine.

Dad took this picture of me when we went to watch trains at a place called Sando. I didn't make the hole in the fence, but Dad said it would make a good picture.

Here is what I get to see over my back fence. Do you see the train going by on the other side?

This is me and my mom when we all went to Jack London Square in Oakland. That's an Amtrak train waiting in the station.

In September 1998 we went to Truckee for a show called Railroad Days. It was very cold and rainy. Mom took a picture of my dad and me in front of a big Union Pacific diesel. We got to go inside and look at where the engineer works.

Steamers are really big! When we went to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, Mom took a picture of me next to a steamer's wheels. 

We went to the International Railfair in Roseville and got to ride on a handcar. That's me, my mom and my dad doing all the work. One of the volunteers took our picture.

See how tall our fence is? Dad built me a stander so that I can see over it.


Can you keep a secret? I can

I got my dad a Union Pacific train shirt for his birthday. I was so excited that I really wanted to tell him about the surprise, but Mom reminded me it was a secret. That's why I have this funny expression on my face. I sealed my lips and no one could pry the secret from them after that. Not even Dad.

Dad! Don't take my picture again!


My 4th birthday vacation

My birthday is May 2. When I turned four, Mom and Dad took me to a special place with lots of trains called Tehachapi. It took all day to drive there from our house in Oakley.

Along the way we stopped in Bakersfield and looked at the switcher engines in the train yard. Then we stopped in Tehachapi and had a motel room with a window that was high above the tracks.

The next day was my birthday. We went to the Tehachapi Loop and a town called Caliente where there were three trains. Then we went back to our motel and had a cake and presents. For dinner we ate at a place called the Caboose Diner.

The next morning we drove to Buena Park and visited an amusement park called Adventure City. The great thing about Adventure City is that they have a Thomas the Tank Engine play area with hundreds of wooden tracks where I could build a huge layout with lots of other kids. I got my picture taken with Thomas, and I rode on a little train that I could pedal with my feet.

On the way home the following day we saw an Amtrak train near Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. I had never seen an Amtrak by the beach before.

I think it was a pretty fun vacation. Maybe we'll go there again someday.

Here is the train I got to ride at Adventure City.


Thomas the Tank Engine is my friend

I got my picture taken with Thomas at Adventure City.

Do you like Thomas the Tank Engine? I do. I have almost all the Thomas videos. I also have some wooden Thomas characters for my Brio train set and die-cast metal trains too.

I used to watch Shining Time Station when it was on PBS, but it moved to the FOX Family Channel so now I sometimes watch it there.

My favorite Thomas episode is called "Gordon's Trouble with Mud." Gordon gets so dirty that Sir Topham Hatt won't let him pull the express train so James has to pull it. But when James can't get up the big hill Gordon comes to the rescue and Sir Topham Hatt says he can pull the train again.

When my dad has some more time he said he will put some links on my page so you can go see other Thomas pages.

If you would like to see my Brio layout with some of the Thomas characters I have, go to the top of this page. If you would like to see some of my other friends, visit my friends page.


Go back to my place.

My dad last updated this page Tuesday, September 7, 1999.