May 2020 from
Jerry Pyfer

What do you think? Once the stay at home orders are lifted, what would you like to see the NWI Chapter do to make up for lost time?

Your board of directors will be considering many options, but maybe you might have one good idea we didn’t think of.

With Mike Schafer’s approval, the month of July will see our annual chapter picnic at the lovely Zephyr Acres spread in Lee, Illinois. We are taking a wait and see stance until July’s NWL comes due. The usual slide show after dark will probably be called off.

Hopefully the August meeting will be at the Oregon depot with the Burlington Northern as the theme for all presenters.

To railfan or not to railfan, that, is the question

I have been diligent about staying home to do my part to flatten the coronavirus curve. I have talked with a few other railfans that would rather continue to pursue their passion.

Sunday afternoon I ventured out for the first time to South Beloit and West Yard of the Canadian Pacific, my old stomping grounds of the Milwaukee Road. I took the position that I would be on my own without making contact with anyone else. This is similar to other railfans. We are usually solitary creatures with one desire, photograph trains. No one else will be affected, right? After all, it is the human contact that we are really trying to avoid by the stay at home restrictions.

Railfans are a spin-off of historians, recording the railroad life. As a historian of sorts, I have been exploring photographs taken during the Spanish flu epidemic from 1917 to 1919. They were facing the same situation we have today. Folks were required to wear cloth masks everywhere. Local police officers could arrest you and the court would give you a $5.00 fine for not wearing a mask in public. One photograph was taken at a professional
baseball game. The batter, catcher, and umpire all had facemasks, as well as the crowd in the stands.

My innocent trip to West Yard revealed the GP20ECO unit idling away in nice sun light. A few frames and I was headed back home. However, the call of nature would demand that I seek a restroom before I got home. McDonald’s doors were locked. There was a Mobil gas station, I go inside wearing my mask. A line of people were ahead of me, without masks that I had to invade to get the restroom key. Coming back out of the room, I made my way past the customers still in line.

I was thankful I had the mask that Cindy made me carry. It is this kind of unintended encounters that make railfanning a risk in these times. A risk not just that I might contract the virus, but that I would place others in jeopardy. From my family to the health care workers that never asked for this kind of challenge that I could have prevented had I just stayed home. We aren’t staying home because of some control conspiracy, rather because of a deadly illness that can be controlled by simply staying home.

Think about, its your call. …Jerry Pyfer

For more information about the Chapter, see Meetings and Join.

Chapter address

North Western Illinois Chapter - NRHS
P.O. Box 5632
Rockford, IL 61125-0632