We all know what happened on September 11, 2001. The range of thoughts and emotions from that day are all over the map. One thing I remember thinking, as the events of the day came to light, is how anyone caught observing infrastructure was going to be looked at differently. Considering the gravity of the day’s event that was a natural reaction. I felt it too.
I remember thinking I didn’t want to end my railfan photography hobby. I had that sinking feeling that photographing trains was somehow going to be problematic. I thought about just hanging up the camera for a while and not bothering with photos so that I could avoid hassles. Then I realized I couldn’t let that happen. I would not sacrifice what I enjoy doing just because of one act.
On Sunday September 16, 2001 I did put aside all of the potential fears and I photographed Amtrak train 751 (Amtrak Cascades service) at Rye Jct. on BNSF’s Seattle Sub. This image depicts another run of the mill day for Amtrak Cascades. However for me it represents the day I decided the terrorist would not win and that they would not take away the freedom I enjoy. Sure I felt funny taking stalking the railroad and taking this photograph so close to such a catastrophic event but I think diving back in was the right thing to do.
Has railfan photography changed since 9/11? I believe it has. I think railfan photographers know their rights better than before (good) and do a better job respecting private property (good). The railroads increased security (frustrating). However at the same time many railroads engaged us as additional eyes (respect). The public who doesn’t necessarily understand railfans I believe still casts a weary eye at us but being 11 years have passed are less sensitive to it (hmmm).
I encourage dogcaught readers to think for a minute how far we’ve come since 9/11, mourn those who were lost, and thank those who continue to protect our freedom.