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John 3:16
Copied from one of the group members on Railspot:

I don't get mad when people use the term "foamer" because I don't consider most railfans to be "foamers." If you would like to become a foamer, however, I have created a list of what you need to do (based on true stories related to me by rail crews). Here is the list:

Climb on top of a signal bridge to get a better angle for your photo. Railroad management will enjoy reviewing the in cab video of you swinging around like a monkey.

Thank the crew for providing you with a cab visit in front of the road supervisor.

Drive your car across a grade crossing in front of an approaching train because the light on the other side of the tracks is better. Isn’t it bad enough that the general public exercises great impatience at railroad crossings?

Use railroad bridges as a walkway or photo shooting platform.

Take a night photo at a remote rural location using as many flashbulbs as possible. Crews do not mind a surprise blinding flash in a remote and lonely area.

Exercise your constitutional right not to explain why you were closely examining the placards of LP gas tank cars. It is much better to be extensively interviewed by both the railroad and city police.

Take a picture or two of the angry shop foreman who is cursing and throwing his tools around. In reality, this calls for a quick and quiet departure.

Direct traffic at a railroad grade crossing. Even though the gates are down, you should direct traffic around the gates if the train is stopped and not occupying the crossing.

Stand right in front of an occupied but standing locomotive, two feet from the front coupler, to take a picture of the MU cables.

Take 50 photos of a railroad crew member throwing a hand switch. Or, even better, of a railroad track crew member drinking water – posting all 50 pictures on the internet. Photos of crew lounging around on break also make fabulous internet postings.

Call the railroad’s emergency reporting number every time you hear a clunking flat wheel.

Cite rules to railroad crews. “Doesn’t rule 34(b)1A.c(3) part 3.2(c) require you to check if your work boots are laced up before attaching a coupler hose to a boxcar with graffiti?”

Speedily drive away when the railroad police approach.

Ask a lot of questions to a railroad crew working on a particularly demanding task. Think of it as going up to a professional poker player during a game and asking “Do you think you’ll succeed with that bluff?”

Climb up on the locomotive to ask the conductor or engineer a question. As they say on ESPN, “C’mon man.”

Talk to the crew on the radio.

Provide a work crew cleaning up a minor derailment with your helpful suggestions. “Shouldn’t you jack that car wheel up about another inch?”

When riding on passenger trains, depart at every stop, take lots of pictures, and be sure not to return to the train until the last possible second.

Set up your tripod between track 4 and track 5. The busier the main line, the more endearing this will be.

Give passing vagrants a lecture on railroad safety. A glassy eyed stare will be your reward.

Bryce Denny


IMHO, the term foamer is derogatory and ridiculous. I don't know what's worst, the railroads calling us that or the railfans calling themselves that. We all have seen the type though......

Exhibit "A", note the crew member signaling WTF!?


5th Generation Texian
In my experience as a railfan and a photographer (meaning I shoot a lot of things that aren't trains, and hang around shooters who never, ever shoot trains....unless it's Susie's senior portrait at the local 'abandoned' railyard...), my money says the guy shooting from the signal platform isn't a railfan at all, just a gwc (guy with camera) that wants a "great" shot. Special events draw these folks out like moths to light. Just a casual fan, just for the moment.

On the various photography forums, I grew tired of nicely informing otherwise professional photographers of the subtle nuances of private property, personal safety and just good manners....Lord knows I tried. It's an exercise in futility.


Reality escapee
I love the bickering when the railroad makes a change some do not like. Like they asked us for our opinion. Or we know better than them. Or we know all the facts.

You wouldn't believe all the bellowing on a local railroad forum when they created a quiet zone downtown. You know what they were complaining about?

They wanna hear choo choo horns. Like they had some Constitutional right to hear them.

I replied "Just go down the track half a mile and you can hear them to your heart's content".



Midsouth fan

I read that on the forum where you got that from a lil while ago. It still amazes me the stupidity engrained in humans. I haven't really seen many phtographers along the LNW, but I've seen them elsewhere. Even before I worked for the railroad, I didn't behave like what was mentioned above.



I actually have thanked a road crew in front of the trainmaster. Because the trainmaster was a foamer too! LOL.


New Member
There are so many people trying to catch us (railroad workers) doing something wrong. Every time I see someone around the railroad who is not a crew member of some craft, I get nervous. Who the heck is that? FRA? AAR? Management? We have a natural distrust of anyone, even more so when we see a camera.

You would not believe some of the stuff I have seen rail fans do, many are lucky to be alive.

Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
There is a difference between foamers and railfans.

Foamers is a derogatory term, and it should be used as such, for those railfans that do stupid all to well.


Marty, it runs on steam!
EVERY hobby has a division in types of people, and many accuse others in the same hobby of being in the less desirable heading and usually have a derogatory word for them.
The funny part is I have talked with a lot of RR employees over the years and most of them consider ALL OF US to be foamers because we’re into trains, no matter what we do in pursuit of the hobby. Everyone needs to just get over themselves. :rolleyes:


John 3:16
I've been told by my managment that I'm not the typical foamer. I do actually go out and do my job without standing in awe looking at something in the yard. I made the comment too that I'm not a foamer. Just a railfan with a railroad job.


Texas Railfan
EVERY hobby has a division in types of people, and many accuse others in the same hobby of being in the less desirable heading and usually have a derogatory word for them.

Hit the nail on the head.
We went to a record convention (as in vinyl & cd's) the other weekend and Frances told me "this looks like your nerd buddies at the train get together except they have a slightly different look to them."

My dad had a 63 chevy impala that he bought new and started to restore it before he passed. Me and him use to go to car shows and watch drag races. He and his buddies would talk about other screw balls in the hobby. You would see fans/guys dressed up in Pit Crew gear with their radios walking around at the bigger events like the SuperNationals or NASCAR.

Every group has it's nut cases!


5th Generation Texian
I've been told by my managment that I'm not the typical foamer. I do actually go out and do my job without standing in awe looking at something in the yard. I made the comment too that I'm not a foamer. Just a railfan with a railroad job.

the lesson here is the same as in most areas of life: be the person you want others to see. You can't control others and how they act, but you can control how you act and by doing so, you make small but significant influences on how folks see everyone else.


Reality escapee
It's not just the railfan community. It's like that in most hobbies.

Conversation I had a few days ago with a friend in the furry community. He was contemplating leaving the fandom. Anyway, I can see many parallels to what is wrong within the railfan community.

Mostly as written but I did take the liberty to edit out the F-bombs... ;)

Friend: I guess I need to be honest: I am likely quitting the furry fandom. I've seen it for what it is underneath the skin. I can't help but think that I am far from that. Sorry.

Me: Please elaborate.

Friend: I just see malaise, slobbery, and behavior I thought human beings were above. I see complete ignorance, reckless self-indulgent actions, and total lack of responsibility. I almost feel as if it is an attracting collective of oddballs and peculiarities of society. I see that as perfectly fine. Yet what you have in that attraction is the portion that is too odd for even society and believe it is their duty to fight the social flow and resist societal standards. Those people choose to indulge their ridiculous self-absorbed uniqueness enough to destroy their place in society. Wherein they bitch upon life kicking them in the teeth constantly. Wonder why, huh?

Simply put: a lot of them need to grow up and actually have a life outside of the fandom. Not just that, a good majority of the fandom consists of people not capable of living on their own means. They use people. Their is no excuse. None. Walk tall or lay down and shut up.

Me: I agree. For good or for bad, the fandom pretty much accepts everyone no matter how dysfunctional they may be. Sadly this happens in many fan-based groups. It's not just Teh Furries. I don't know what the solution would be. I mean, who gets to be the arbitrator/judge on who is "acceptable" to the fandom? I myself do not want that to happen. Anyway, I'm trying to surround myself with sane people in the community. I'm not going to let the obsessed ones ruin my fun, no matter how many there may be out there.

I enjoy the fandom but I'm glad I have a life outside it. :)

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Midsouth fan

April is exactly've gotta have a life outside of the hobby. If you don't, I don't know how it can be exciting and fresh all of the time.

As for me, I usually get my fill at work. (how about u setxrailfan and MarkJL?)

When I first started with the LNW, my senior engineer knew I was a railfan, and was a lil stand-offish with the idea of me being there. One day I was having a not-so-wonderful day on the job. He was quick to say, "There's a BIG difference between being a rail-hand and a railfan, isn't there?" I was in no position to disagree. :p

Unlike setxrailfan, I have found myself watching a KCS or a UP train go by when I should've been doing something else, but I'm trying to get better. If any of my co-workers catch me watching, I tell them I'm inspecting a passing train like any good railroader should. :D


Railfan Railroader
Great reply Midsouth fan. My co-workers knew I was a trainbuff even before I was hired. I would visit Texas 2 times a year so my wife could visit her family here. I would photograph and video tape the shortline railroad I work for now. I got to know the train crews and they still remind me and laugh about seeing me recording trains. They even say to this day I need Foamer Rehab. I think part of the rehab included switching cars for hours on end in the Texas heat and walking on ballast along the tracks hours at a time also. I still enjoy seeing trains pass by while at work, we interchange with the KCS and UP. I remember and am reminded about the time I suggested we wait for a UP train to pass so I could see the locomotives go by before we dead headed back to the office to clock out for the day, needless to say my co-workers left before I could see the train pass by. But as you mentioned being at work most days for 12 hours 5 or 6 days a week, I do get my fill of trains and I don't drive hundreds of miles anymore to take pictures like I use to. All in All I still enjoy watching trains go by even when I'm not at work. I still can say even after almost 10 months on the job this is the BEST job I have ever had and I wouldn't trade it for anything, except for maybe 500 million dollars ! :D is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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