Guidebook for Great Places to Watch Trains

Where to find the best places to watch trains

The  Hot Spots Guidebook  is your #1 source for finding the best places to watch trains.

Experience the thrill of more than 100 of the best train-watching locations in America. Trains magazine editors  have covered in great detail all you’ll ever need to find the top locations where to watch trains.

The  Hot Spots Guidebook  also contains maps of the area, site descriptions, photographs, and approximate number of daily trains are included. Additional useful information includes driving directions, nearby points of interest, local options for dining, lodging, and other activities make this the must-have guidebook on where to watch trains for every rail fan.

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By avi8tor4life: This book is nice with lots of information about railfanning across the USA. It does not include all of North America like it says it does. There is no info on Mexico or Canada and that is why I am deducting one star. I bought it because I thought it had info on our neighbors as well. Other than that it is a nice book to have if you are going to locations you haven’t been before or know little about. It has maps, places to go, pictures, places to eat etc.
By Bill Hough:When I first saw Kalmbach’s advertisement for “Hot Spots Guidebook,” I incorrectly figured that it would be a magazine-sized special edition of Trains, much like the popular “Locomotive” series. This is incorrect; the Guidebook is approximately 5.5 x 8 inches, which allows it to fit neatly in a daypack or camera bag. It’s an attractive book with an attractive cover photo of two BNSF trains meeting at Belmont, NB. The inside is laid out well with nice maps that are detailed and colorful.
This book is definitely a group effort, and a list of contributors is on page 3. Randy Rehberg is the editor and Jim Wrinn wrote the introduction. Bill Metzger gets most (but not all) of map credits. The maps are the most useful illustrations in a book like this one.
The photographs came from the many contributors and they serve to illustrate the location being described. Most of the photos are excellent although this reviewer noticed that some, like the one at Muncie IN, suffer from poor light.

This book will appeal to a broad audience. Obviously, a serious railfan will keep a copy within reach for ad-hoc reference. Because the guidebook lists more than 180 train watching locations, it’s a safe bet that just about every reader will find something new. Kalmbach will probably also sell plenty of these books to overseas railfans planning their first trip to the United States.

At the same time, this book is an obvious gift idea for a younger railfan who is just starting out. Several introductory sections, including Fred W. Frailey’s “Six ways to be a Smarter Train Watcher” and Jeff Wilson’s “Basics for Photographing Trains” are excellent for introducing new people into the hobby.

The train-watching locations are arranged alphabetically by state. Individual listings differ in the amount of detail provided. Certain locations, such as Kansas City Union Station don’t come with a photo or map but a quick perusal of the text tells you all you need to know. These are referred to as “condensed listings” and might get fleshed out in future editions.

Other locations have more comprehensive listings including a map, photograph, radio frequencies, description of train activity and expanded text including things for normal people to do.

A review of a typical entry is useful. On pages 168-169 is the listing for Bound Brook NJ has two maps; one showing the station-area detail and the other going out about 6 miles to illustrate the greater Bound Brook area. The photo shows a CSX westbound heading into the setting sun and I don’t think it would have come out as nice on film. One can quickly read the listing and quickly figure out what to do.

This book is a handy reference, to be consulted when planning a trip to a “new” state. The reader can quickly determine locations of interest and factor in side activities for the non-railfans in the group. It will pay off on family vacations by reducing time-wasting searches.

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