Most dangerous places to railfan

Posts that don't fit in the other train categories. Off Subject Chit Chat I tell you. :)
cole1020
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Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by cole1020 »

We’ve all been to at least one of these places before. Places that make you realize that if something went wrong, you might as well be a goner. Perhaps you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of town, or you’ve ventured too far off the beaten path and you’re in the absolute middle of nowhere. Regardless, I want to hear what places railfanning has taken you that has scared you out of your wits.

As for me, I’ve been to both Delray and Coldwater yard past their unofficial 8pm curfews, but never felt too threatened. The only place that’s truly ever terrified me was the Metro Center in Gary whilst waiting for a South Shore connection. That was the first place I’ve seen drug deals and other sorts of crimes occur out in the open in daylight. The fact that I didn’t have my car with me made it all the more terrifying.

Anyway, let’s hear your guys’ stories.

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David Collins
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by David Collins »

Delray has gotten wayyyyy too much hype for being a “dangerous” place to railfan over the years…BUT it has definitely changed for the better over the last few years. As long as you don’t do anything stupid, drive an expensive car (I took my girlfriends trackhawk down there once, NEVER doing that again), or just draw unnecessary attention, you’ll be fine. I’ve pulled all nighters there and honestly enjoyed it. Is it the safest area? No. Are you guaranteed to get shot or mugged? Also no.

I think the most dangerous place I’ve railfanned in was the South Bend, Indiana Amtrak station. Me and my girlfriend were there during Ferris States’ fall break this past year, and we heard someone unload around 20 bullets out of something automatic, and from VERY close (we even saw what we thought to be the gunman running away). Obviously it scared the living hell out of us and we bailed out of there as fast as we could. I later talked with an engineer friend of mine at NS who is a railfan. He told me back when he was young, he, his dad and some of his friends parked their cars at the SB Amtrak station and took the train into Chicago. They came back that night to all of their car windows smashed out. When there are consistent reports of stuff like that, and having experienced what me and my girlfriend did, I’m never going there again.

I would love to hear everyone else’s locations too.
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ConrailDetr​oit
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by ConrailDetr​oit »

Monroe, south of the Raisin River where the SB Detroit line runs on Kentucky St has more reported and witnessed incidents than anywhere in Detroit.

In Michigan, those age 21 and over without felonies and certain misdemeanors occuring within a recent time frame may obtain a CPL and carry a handgun in most public places. Ohio and Indiana do not require a CPL. The fee for a Michigan CPL is currently $115.00 and is valid for 5 Years.

No other citizen's sense of entitlement or devaluation of one's own personal life should ever prevent or dissuade any railfan from finding trains in places enjoyed.

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DaveO
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by DaveO »

can you really enjoy a place if you need to carry?
when the train approaches you, are you watching if someone is approaching you?

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David Collins
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by David Collins »

DaveO wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2024 4:00 pm
can you really enjoy a place if you need to carry?
when the train approaches you, are you watching if someone is approaching you?
This.
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Buster Manning
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by Buster Manning »

felt more unsafe on a locomotive going thru Gary and the south side of Chicago than railfanning anywhere....people there would sometimes shoot at the windows of the locos....always sat back in behind the side window so as to not have a profile visible

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David Collins
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by David Collins »

Buster Manning wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:01 pm
felt more unsafe on a locomotive going thru Gary and the south side of Chicago than railfanning anywhere....people there would sometimes shoot at the windows of the locos....always sat back in behind the side window so as to not have a profile visible
There was an incident just outside of Gary recently involving two NS trains and people throwing bricks at the windows. Both members of the crew on one of the trains involved both got glass in their eyes (in order for double pane glass that locomotives use to shatter, that thing has to be HURLED at a really high velocity). The other train’s second unit had it’s windshield spiderwebbed.

That’s some scary sh*t though. Glad you never had to deal with that.
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Buster Manning
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by Buster Manning »

Ooooh, but I have....

A few years back, I was running 352 on a warm, sunny saturday thru Marshall when someone threw a rock at my train when I went by the Dark Horse Brewery....it hit the windshield on my side of the cab with enough force to spiderweb the window and at the point of contact, the window was dented inward an inch....pretty sure if something else had happened to that window, it would have completely failed and come in on me

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Erroneous Monk
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by Erroneous Monk »

Buster Manning wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2024 7:14 pm
Ooooh, but I have....

A few years back, I was running 352 on a warm, sunny saturday thru Marshall when someone threw a rock at my train when I went by the Dark Horse Brewery....it hit the windshield on my side of the cab with enough force to spiderweb the window and at the point of contact, the window was dented inward an inch....pretty sure if something else had happened to that window, it would have completely failed and come in on me
Are loco windows similar to car and truck windows?

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TommyG
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by TommyG »

When I was a young kid in the 1980's, my dad used to take me down to Delray periodically. That was always a little scary at times, but, I do remember there always seemed to be some railroad employee presence there, and we were invited multiple times up into the tower. We used to cruise around the area and check out the yard, occasionally getting invited for a cab ride. The coolest cab ride down there was in a Conrail GP15 where the engineer picked me up and sat me on his lap and let me control the throttle as we did some switching. We also used to go to Milwaukee Jct. and some surrounding areas which were pretty seedy as well. 1980's Detroit was certainly an experience...

ConrailDetr​oit
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by ConrailDetr​oit »

DaveO wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2024 4:00 pm
can you really enjoy a place if you need to carry?
when the train approaches you, are you watching if someone is approaching you?
No person needs to carry. All a personal preference crossed with individual and constitutional rights.

One should always be aware of surroundings and who and what may be approaching. Wild pit bull attacks are another threat around tracks and farmsteads with animals in Detroit.

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GTW Dude
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by GTW Dude »

Ooh, my time to shine.

I've been a lot of dangerous places to watch trains over the years ever since I was little. That includes going down through places like the the projects of Outer drive and 8 mile during the middle of the night around the time the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy. But I think the one that takes the cake is when I went out to Isbell St. in Lansing to photograph the derelict Wig Wag on the old Michigan Central Lansing to Albion line.

I am a student attending MSU and caught the word about the last remnants of a Wig-Wag in Michigan being just 5 miles from my dorm out in Lansing. for various reasons such as not being allowed to have a car on campus, not wanting to pay for the bus, and refusing to bring my bike from home due to the rampant amount of bike theft and vandalism and campus, I asked my roommate if I could borrow his $100 el cheapo bike which had a broken peddle so I could get to Lansing faster (big mistake). I got about 2 blocks from my dorm before I would have to start walking with the bike. Why I didn't just leave it back at my dorm is beyond me, but that wouldn't make for a good story now would it?

I got all the way down to Forest Akers golf course when I realized what kind of mistake I made but I was too far into what I had started. There were no sidewalks for a good 2 miles so I had to try and limp the bike on the shoulder of the road with all of my camera equipment on my back walking the 5 miles ONE WAY to Lansing.

I began to run into the suburbs which weren't so bad at first, but as I kept going my surroundings started getting sketchier. I ran into another JAIL line which someone had thrown a couch and pallets onto the ROW. As I got to the corner where I needed to make a right, there was an abandoned junior high with fences around the perimeter along with vacant strip malls. When I realized Isbell street was no where near the public eye, I had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. The reason this was so different from any other experience I had was because in those cases I actually had a means of getting the heck out of there with a car and had another person by my side. in this case I was alone and if anyone approached me I was dropping the bike and running like hell praying that they didn't have any weapons.

The neighborhood was not that great. If you look at Google Streetview it looks a lot better than what it actually is. that a lot of houses and yards were in poor shape but nothing that was abandoned. It was not a very nice neighborhood to say the least. I kept my head on a swivel to make sure nobody was walking in my direction while I took photos.

So here I was, alone and unarmed with a broken bike and a backpack marked "Canon" in the projects of Lansing. I was too vulnerable and terrified to put my backpack on the ground and pull my camera out so I shot photos with my phone. I stayed maybe 10 minutes before I hopped on that bike and peddled as hard as I could out of there. You would not believe the amount of energy it takes to ride a bicycle with one pedal but I was trying to cruise like hell.

After 10 grueling miles of peddling and walking the bike, I made it back to my dorm. I know someone here is going to be like "You wus, it's not that bad bla bla bla" but it really isn't all that great if you've been there in person. I definitely think out of all the times I've been out that this was the most dangerous given the circumstances. Sometimes I think back to that day an realize what would have happened to me had something gone wrong? I could have been kidnapped, mugged, anything you could think of and nobody would have known I where I was. But at the end of the day, I made it home in one piece and that's what matters.

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GTW Dude
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by GTW Dude »

DaveO wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2024 4:00 pm
can you really enjoy a place if you need to carry?
when the train approaches you, are you watching if someone is approaching you?
Depending on where you are filming or taking photos from, having a firearm is not a bad precaution.

If your looking out the driver side window of your car and someone tries to rip open your passenger side door to carjack you then yea it's easier to defend yourself. if your out in the open camera and tripod in hand the it's a no I'm obviously in a safe place. If you ever do want to film outside in a less than stellar place, bringing a friend should be a must so they can look out for you and vice versa.

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DaveO
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by DaveO »

when you spend more time concerned about your safety rather than watching trains you're in the wrong spot.
if you have a friend that will watch your back it helps but you're still in the wrong spot.

GRHC
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by GRHC »

The most dangerous place I’ve ever watched trains was in Zeeland Michigan. One day I was watching trains and I was walking next to the tracks unfortunately I was alone unarmed and barefoot. As I was watching a train and walking along suddenly I felt a severe pain in my foot and looked down and realized that I had stepped on a piece of broken glass and cut my foot.

Note: I previously posted about this incident and was going to edit it and accidentally cleared it and then got busy and didn’t have time to repost until now.

joeyuboats
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by joeyuboats »

Barefoot , on a railroad track. I am cringing, just thinking about that. OUCH!!!! Hope the foot was OK!

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Y@
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by Y@ »

GRHC wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2024 11:34 am
One day I was watching trains and I was walking next to the tracks unfortunately I was alone unarmed and barefoot.
Man, if only you would have been armed!
Bottom text.

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J T
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by J T »

DaveO wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2024 10:35 am
when you spend more time concerned about your safety rather than watching trains you're in the wrong spot.
if you have a friend that will watch your back it helps but you're still in the wrong spot.
I often carry when railfanning in the sticks of Allegan County. Never know when a methhead or crazy animal might jump out and attack. :lol:
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GRHC - you know every night I can imagine he is in front of his computer screen sitting in his underwear swearing profusely and drinking Blatz beer combing the RailRoadFan website for grammatical errors.

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SD80MAC
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by SD80MAC »

This is a very weird thing to brag about.
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Michael
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Re: Most dangerous places to railfan

Unread post by Michael »

I am surprised AARR restrained himself from saying the most dangerous spot to railfan is next to PAT C when he says pull my finger!

Or the runner up, Thompsonville :lol:

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