Why do people wave at trains?

Railroadforums.com is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Why do people wave at trains? That’s not a Google topic that brings up anything, yet folks have waved for over a hundred and fifty years, I’m sure since trains were invented, just as they do here on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad today in Portland. I bet someone could do a great Master’s Thesis on this in Sociology, if not a Doctorate. Walkers, bikers, Segway riders, beach blanket babes, kids, parents, cute young couples, a former Governor who walks the Promenade most every day, babes in arms with their parent holding the kid’s arm waving along with him or her, implanting that kinetic response. Just about everyone waves. It’s enough to make a guy’s arm tuckered out, but how can you not wave back? It’s impolite to say the least. There’s a delightful warmth that passes between the waver and the wavee that’s just something to cherish.

I was cruising along westbound on the 1100 run returning those many waves, and one of the waves came from an ex-girlfriend strolling along the Promenade! We quickly recognized each other, I gave a straight-armed finger point at her with a big smile (my forefinger, not the one next door), and she smiled back. I think we both surprised each other. I sent her an e-mail this afternoon inviting her for a locomotive ride. Hope springs eternal, even in the fall.

What's your theory or thesis? I know people don't wave at truckers, but they do pull their arm down asking for a horn blast.


Ah, the romance of the rails....

Goes back to the dawn of man. While hunting, cavemen waved at their brethren riding on the back of a T-Rex.... ;)

RailroadForums.com 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 amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - 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.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - 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.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)