If you have a love of trains, you don’t have to go far to enjoy your hobby. These 14 websites let you enjoy railroad history, train photos, model railroading and more, right from your computer (or your phone). Happy railfanning!
1. Virtual Railfan
Virtual Railfan “brings the trains to you” with live feeds of some of the busiest train tracks from all over the world. To be exact, you can see feeds from:
- 77 cameras
- 47 locations
- 22 states
- 21 railroads
- 4 countries
New locations are added regularly. You can find their live feeds on the Virtual Railfan YouTube channel.
RailPictures.net offers the “best railroad photos on the net,” featuring train photos from amateurs and pros alike. You can filter results by:
- Locomotive type
You can also create a “favorite photos list” and view various other “favorite” lists, including editors’ picks, top shots of the week and “People’s Choice Awards.” RailPictures.net has more than 658,000 photos online, so there’s no shortage of great pics.
3. RR Picture Archives
Looking for another photo source? Try RR Picture Archives. The site’s locomotive search tool was recently enhanced to include a heritage locomotive search.
With more than 5,000 members, Trainorders.com claims the title of “the largest railroad website on the internet” – and its stats are pretty impressive. The website holds more than 200 gigabytes of railroad content and more than one million messages have been posted to the site’s discussion forums alone. TrainOrders.com offers a little bit of everything, including:
- Image of the day
- Video of the day
- Discussion forums
- Media sharing
- Image library
- FanFinder to locate TrainOrders.com members where you live
- Railroad-related classified ads
If you’re looking to join a rail fan community, Trainorders.com is the place to be.
5. The Railwire
The Railwire is the “logical forum for modelers.” If you want to talk model trains, this is your source. Visit discussions based on scale or check out categories like “Challenges,” “Scenery Techniques” and “DCC / Electronics.”
For a broader discussion of train topics, visit the TrainBoard discussion forum. Online since March 2000, TrainBoard is one of the Internet’s oldest railfan, railroad and model railroad-related websites.
7. Trains Magazine
The website for Trains Magazine houses news stories covering a wide variety of topics related to the railroad industry. You can sort by:
- And even the UP Big Boy
Beyond news, the Trains Magazine website also offers blogs, forums, photos, and video as well as links to model railroader groups and other train-related websites.
8. Model Railroader Magazine
If you’re a subscriber to Model Railroader, you can access digital issues here. If you’re not, there’s still something for you to see, including:
- A “How To” section for model railroaders
- Visits of model train layouts featured in the magazine
- “Expert tips” videos with in-depth and informative tips
- Product reviews
So whether you enjoy checking out other peoples’ layouts, are seeking inspiration for your own, or both, this website has what you need.
9. Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine
Want to read about model railroading without a subscription? Check out Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine, which lets visitors read their issues online.
RailFan.Net has links to a long list of rail fan resources, including:
- Message boards
- Vintage newsletters
- Railfan sites across the country
So if you want links, links and more links, this is the place to go.
Still want more links? RailServe.com has you covered. With 180 categories, it’s a comprehensive guide to 19,000 railroad websites, online resources and upcoming events. Some of the categories to choose from include:
- Apparel and train gifts
- Games and train simulators
- Model train shows calendar
- Regional railroading and railfan guides
- YouTube train video channels
To help you navigate, links are tagged by category: travel, hobby or industry. Don’t blame us if you lose several hours browsing…
12. American Rails
If you’re a railroad history buff, you’ll like American Rails. The website’s goal is to take you “on a journey back in time to experience what our great nation's railroads once were, where they operated, the high quality passenger trains they once possessed, and the classic equipment they utilized.” Sections to browse include:
- Rail History
- Rail Travel
- Today’s Industry
- Rolling Stock
The website also includes a page on fallen flags, railroads that are no longer in business (but remain just as fascinating!).
Rail history buffs will also like AbondonedRails.com, which features maps, pictures and history on thousands of miles of abandoned railroad routes. Click a state or a railroad company to see several map choices.
RailfanLocations lists places where it is safe and legal to watch trains. So whether you want to take photos, shoot video, or just enjoy watching trains pass, you’ll get the information, maps and tips you need to have a great experience. RailfanLocations reminds visitors that when watching trains, safety is the top priority. Stay off the tracks, don’t trespass on railroad property, and keep a safe distance from trains. Click here for more information on how to stay safe in the presence of trains.
What’s Your Favorite?
What are your favorite rail fan sites? How about places to visit? Let us know.
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