Being a railfan comes in
many shapes and sizes. The typical railfan likes to watch trains,
take pictures and perhaps model on a layout in their basement. But
other people take the hobby much farther - to the Extreme. And,
that's what this web page is all about... linking you with examples of
The Extreme Railfan.
Garden Model Railroad fans run through the bushes.
Garden model railroaders actually set up miniature railroads in
their gardens at home and run trains between the bushes.
Click here to see an
out-of-state example. MichiganRailroads.com is looking for
examples of working garden railroads in Michigan. If you
know of any sites with web connections, please click "Nominate"
on the left and let us know.
Operate Your Own Steam Locomotive. The volunteers of
Project 1225, based on Owosso, maintain and operate their own
steam locomotive, one of the largest ever built in the United
States. It is sometimes dirty, grimy work, but the rewards
are enormous. To learn more, click on
Own your Own Railroad Passenger Car. Several hundred
people in the U.S. own their own private railroad cars, many of
which were sold at reasonable prices as Amtrak and VIA Rail
replaced equipment in the 1980's and 1990's. The best
local example of this can be found in Saginaw, where the Blue
Water Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society has
it's shops. Click here for an introduction to the Blue
Water Chapter -
Quarter-Gauge Railroads in Your Back "40". Some people
construct 1-2' gauge (between the rails) railroads on their
property. Many of these are quietly operated to avoid
zoning restrictions and to keep the neighbors happy.
Perhaps the two best known operations are near Fairview, the
AuSable Valley Railroad which
is operated by the Shrader family, and the
Junction Valley Railroad, near Frankenmuth. Kevin and
Peg Lawrence vote for the Junction Valley line: "The
AuSable has better trestles, but Junction Valley is best for
locomotives, rolling stock, and amount of trackage and
structures, including a fully functional roundhouse and
turntable." But both routes make for an excellent day
trip of fun for the entire family.
Riding the rails by Speeder.
About 1,300 people nationwide own former railroad track
inspection/maintenance cars which are called "Speeders".
Through their national organization, NARCOA, they sponsor trips
on railroads throughout the country, including several each year
in Michigan. More information, click on
Work on your own Railroad, Your Own Tracks. If you
join the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, you can work on
(and own as a member) your own railroad. Operating on an
old Conrail branch line from Clinton south to Lenawee Junction,
the SMRS operates excursions and other events.
Click here to see the SMRS.
Watch trains and signals on your home computer. Digital
Railscanning is taking off. With a bit of tinkering, an
800 Mhz scanner can be modified to output digital signaling from
railroad trackside control points to your computer. Then,
through a downloaded conversion program, you can map these
signals to a track diagram in your own home.
to read all about it.
If you have examples of
Extreme Railfanning (preferably in Michigan, or northern Ohio
or Indiana), please let us know by clicking the "Nomination" button at
the left. Please include your e-mail address, a description of the
activity, and a web link address where we can find out more.
Please do not nominate activities which are illegal or unsafe as they
will not be considered. A panel of Extreme Railfan
select from the nominees.