The Roundhouse Podcast

017: Top Ten Railfan Travel Items, Rail U.S.A. Maps


Summer is almost here.  What should you pack for your next railfanning trip?  I share my Top Ten suggestions, along with introducing you to the Rail U.S.A. maps by Bella Terra Publishing.  We’ll also be discussing the recent derailment of Amtrak Train #188.


Amtrak Train #188 crashed in Philadelphia on the evening of May 12th, 2015.  NTSB has confirmed the train was traveling at 102 MPH around a curve limited to 50.  The engineer is cooperating in the investigation, and the NTSB is investigating the possibility that the locomotive was being struck by projectiles.

Norfolk & Western Y6a #2156 was delivered to the Virginia Museum of Transportation on a five-year lease from the St. Louis Museum of Transportation.  There will be a photo opp on May 31st where you can photograph it alongside N&W 1218 and the recently restored N&W 611.

Top 10 Railfan Travel Items (2:42)

10 – Scanner

9 – Rain jacket

8 – Trackside Entertainment – magazines, book, a friend

7 – Railroad guides

6 – Music

5 – Camera and related equipment – don’t forget batteries!

4 – Protection from the sun – sunscreen, hat, sunglasses

3 – Maps or GPS device

2 – Snacks

1 – Water

Rail U.S.A. Set of 3 Maps (7:44)

Eric Riback began working at other mapmaking companies before forming his own.  Bella Terra Publishing produces maps on a wide range of specialty subject, such as lighthouses and the American Civil War.  Their Rail U.S.A. Set of 3 Illustrated Guide Maps showcases over 1200 museums, tourist railroads, railroad viewing locations, stations, and more.  Eric talks with us about the process of researching and designing this interesting set.

My Review of These Maps (32:43)

  • Clear presentation of sites – insets for areas with several sites close together

  • Good quality printing and paper

  • Great Illustrations

  • 1200 locations between the three maps – you’ll likely find something new

  • Are they worth getting?  Yes, for either the artwork/presentation format or for visiting new areas of the country.

I have also worked out a deal with Bella Terra where you can SAVE $3 off of the set while supporting the show at the same time!

Amtrak Train #188 Derailment (35:42)

At this point in their investigation, the National Transit Safety Board has only released a few known facts about the derailment.  I share my thoughts about how speculation can be harmful and how to avoid it.

Question of the Day (42:48)

What is the #1 most important item for your railfanning trip and why?  Or, what are your thoughts regarding the response to the Amtrak 188 derailment?  Let me know and I will respond to your comments in our next episode.

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