Railfan for Life: The Photography of Hal Carstens
Railfan For Life is a journey across the American railroading landscape (with brief visits to Europe) through the lens of Hal Carstens. He was able to turn his lifetime passion for trains into a career, first joining Railroad Model Craftsman and later launching Railfan & Railroad, growing the company as a major publisher of exciting hobby books and magazines.
In this volume, you'll enjoy more than 100 pages of color photos selected by our editors spanning Hal's trackside adventures from the last 60 years. From coast to coast, from steam to diesel (and trolleys, too), from main lines to short lines and everything in between!
Hal Carstens traveled extensively as he represented his company to the hobby industry. Whether it was for the National Model Railroad Association, the National Railway Historical Society, the Model Railroad Industry Association, or any one of the many organizations Hal supported, his camera always went with him. From the south end of Florida to the California coast, Hal documented the rail scene in its two major transitions — from steam to diesel and from numerous scattered Class 1s to large merged companies.
In a time when many photographers stuck with black and white, Hal branched out and experimented with color. He was able to capture many steam operations in their waning years, in vibrant full color. Thanks to these early forays into color, Hal provides us with a dramatic look back at the Golden Age of steam railroading in America.
When mainline steam vanished from American rails, Hal could be found trackside as some engines found their second wind in the excursion era. From city streetcar lines, to regional interurban systems and everything in between, Hal Carstens was there to ride and photograph them. During his frequent railfan trips he was able to document many of America's remaining lines. Some lines like the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, Philadelphia & Western or the Washington D.C. and Baltimore city lines were captured as they neared the end of their service lives. Others like San Francisco's historic cable cars and New Orleans' St. Charles Line streetcars were photographed going about their daily business that has continued to the present time with little interruption.