How long has this website been around?

The website first started in June, 1999 on Geocities (defunct on October 26, 2009) before Yahoo got involved and when the total amount of space was 11 MB instead of 15 MB now. At first it just had California stuff on it, and before I knew it, my space was running out very quickly. I signed up with XOOM.com because of the free space and unlimited bandwidth. For a while, it worked fine, then it got sold to NBC (Yes, the TV station NBC), who completely trashed it. After playing around with about 10-20 different really bad free web hosts, such as cutting back web space, or just disappearing, and leaving Geocities due to cutting FTP access for free websites. In June of 2003, my topcities account seemed like it was hacked. I think the problem was hotlinking, which I was unaware I was doing at the time (Lousy, rotten...) Lots of other people had problems too with Topcities. I then packed up everything and went to Hostultra.

Hostultra seemed like an okay unlimited bandwidth/webspace site for free for a while, but during the 2004 year, they started adding lots of spyware, and viruses to their 404 pages. People kept on asking/accusing them of spyware, but they kept on denying that they were spyware and viruses. Also, on their forums, the moderators get very nasty and permanently ban people for no good reason.

Many people wanted me to find a paid host, but I was against doing it because it was a hobby, and didn't want to pay for something that wouldn't generate any income. After a long time of thinking about it, I finally gave in.

I tried to find a good paid host, and I found one (I thought) at Lypha, as recommended by a bunch of people. I went through the process, but I had to get a phone call for verification. During that automated phone call, I got disconnected. I immediately left, although the order did go through, to my unknown knowledge.

I found a webhoster at Hostingplex for 2 more GB disk space, but 40 less GB of bandwidth, than Lypha provided, and at about 50% less. I'm currently with Hostingplex, and I have an account with them until May 29, 2011. The server does have it's quirks, and people complain a lot, but hey, you get a lot for just $4 a month, as opposed to free webhosting.

Sometime during 2006, the website space jumped from 5,000 MB to 200,000 MB, and my bandwidth limit from 110 GB to 1,000 GB! I've taken advantage of this, and hosted a website by using my millions of bytes that I have, and pay towards keeping the website alive.

How come you only have MP3/WMA audio on your website? How come there are no videos?

Mostly due to visitors to the site who still use dial-up. I have no plans to add video.

On the day of your update, at what time do you update?

I don't have a set time, because I can't stick to it. Real life events get in the way of updating at a set time. The time can come anytime from between 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM in my time zone.

How about contributing to other websites, and groups such as Yahoo Groups?

I'd prefer to keep my stuff EXCLUSIVE to my website. I've also noticed some people send stuff to me, and them post on other groups and websites. That bothers me. I'd like my website to have all pictures exclusive to my site only. I'd prefer if those people who post their pictures on other groups to remove them. It isn't necessary, but would really help me out.

I may change the rule at any time though.

How come you always go to Flagstaff and Williams all the time? Why not Phoenix, they have lots more crossings there?

There's 4 parts to that question.

The first part is train volume. The Seligman sub gets 93-100 trains per day according to the FRA. The city of Williams only gets 9 per day, but the Grand Canyon train takes off everyday at 10 AM MST/PST, and comes back at 5:30 PM MST/PST, so I always know when to get that one in action. Phoenix only gets about 9-11 trains per 24 hour day. Only 13 UP trains go through Phoenix, which isn't much better, although only 4 go by during daytime hours (6AM to 6 PM MST).

The second reason is scenery. From Williams to Flagstaff on Interstate 40 and from Sedona to Flagstaff on Interstate 17 is nothing but luscious forestry that I love being in. We have a forest here in Prescott too, but it's disappearing due to fires, and bark beetles that sucked about 50% of the forest dry in 2003. Looking at dry desert with lots of cactus doesn't excite me as much, especially because I lived in it for 6 years from 1987-1993.

The third reason is the weather. The desert gets into the 110s and 120s during the summer, while Northern Arizona rarely gets into the 90s. Williams and Flagstaff's elevations are very close to 7,000 feet, while Wickenburg is about 2,100 feet. Phoenix is even lower than Wickenburg. The winter time is very cold, with lows getting below zero, but once again, the forestry, and train traffic outweighs the desert. Perhaps by 2009, parts of Arizona will have light rail, which will increase train traffic. I may go down and see those if I'm still in Arizona by 2009. Places like Wickenburg may not get light rail until much later.

The final reason is safety. I know Phoenix has over 100 crossings, but they've been voted the 2nd worst city to live in (Detroit, MI is #1), Arizona is #1 in the nation for car thefts, and the state of Arizona has been voted the 3rd worst state overall to live in the United States. Flagstaff may only have 5 crossings (or 6 if you count Cosnino), and the crime is above the national average in Flagstaff, but it's still safer there than Phoenix.

Regular BNSFMan08 has gotten a lot of the BNSF crossings in the Phoenix area. Not very many for UP for now. I don't have any plans on getting those UP crossings right now due to financial issues.

Have you seen signals operate with no trains around?

Yes. I've seen numerous signals malfunction. The latest one I've seen happened on January 29, 2005 at the MSU crossing #1. The 8" lights kept on going out, and wouldn't flash. The bell continued to ring though. I didn't report the problem to Grand Trunk, although I probably should've.

Have you seen signals not operate when a train went through a crossing?

Yes, but not in person. I've seen videos on Youtube showing gateless signals not functioning at all.

Have you ever seen crossing gates rise while a train is still going through?

No. I've seen Youtube videos, but I haven't had the "pleasure" to experience this yet.

Has the power gone off of the signals (power outage) while the train is still crossing the street?

No. All signalized crossing systems have battery backup requirements by law. Wigwags sometimes have backups, but not all of them, especially in the early days. I've been told that batteries can power busy crossings for up to 2 days.

Have you ever seen a car get hit by a train personally?

No. I've seen lots of close calls though.

Have you had any difficulties or problems while taking pictures of train signals?

LOTS! All of my problems have happened in Flagstaff, AZ. On March 23, 1998, I was getting my videos back in action after a 4 year hiatus, I still had some old "roots". Back in California and Wickenburg, AZ I always was walking on the railroad tracks. No one payed attention, and I always looked around for trains at least once or twice a second, plus I wasn't hurting anything. The Flagstaff police didn't agree with me on 3/23/1998. I was looking for trains at the Fanning St. crossing in Flagstaff, and I was on the tracks looking for a train, so I could get into position to film. Unknown to me, my grandfather was noticing that the Flagstaff PD was watching me very closely, and when I decided to leave the crossing to head for home, I got pulled over. I didn't get arrested, but was told to stay off and cross only at the crossing. I look back and I don't blame the officer for being suspicious, because the website was about a year and a half away, and nobody knew what I was doing. If I had the site, I think they'd have a much better idea. When I see police now, they just go on by. I don't know if they know I'm not a threat, or if they know me from my website. I'll likely never know. Also, I've had my share of people yelling obscene things to me. The last incident happened to me on September 28, 2003 at San Francisco St. Some stupid person talked during the taping, and screwed up the whole video.

When taking video from the DOW Chemical area with gtw4070@gmail.com, security stopped us because we were there for a long time. Nothing happened, except they took our records.

Also, when leaving Michigan for Arizona, I stopped at a gas station at the State highway 104 double crossing in Pawnee, IL. A police officer saw me walking to the tracks, and questioned me. He was a little hesitant to let me go, but he did. He kept his eye on me for about 5 minutes, before he turned on his lights, and went West on Interstate 55.

The latest happened on September 24, 2006 at Peach Springs, AZ. I was parked away from the tracks. A police officer came by and saw I was parked, and forced me to move about 100 feet away from the tracks for no good reason.

Have you seen cars go around the gates and were you angered?

Yes, I have. Most of the time they happen when a train has stopped at a crossing for a long time, keeping the circuit activated. Yes, in a way I do get a little angry, because there are other crossings, but if it's the only crossing in one place, then I'd think a little different. I haven't seen people go around gates in Flagstaff as of yet. Three crossings out of 5 in Flagstaff are impossible to go around. One example of people going around gates is shown on my site at Laurel Park Rd. in Compton, CA. look at pictures 9-12.

One example of the gates staying down too long going into one place is at Parks Rd. (Exit 178) at Beaumont, AZ All the pictures tell the story.

Will you ever get any photos of Amtrak Trains passing by crossings, Like the Southwest Chief that runs through Flagstaff, and the Sunset Limited that runs through Tucson.

No. The schedules are way off my time. I think the ones in Flagstaff go by around 4 AM, and 5:30 PM, I can't get there that early, and I can't stay that late yet. I was thinking of doing so with the Vioxx settlement, but it turned out to be so small, that it's gone already.

As for Tucson, Tucson is very gang ridden, and is a very hot spot for illegal aliens crossing into the United States, so I'm not getting anything there ever. With the very high crime over there, going for a train that late is just asking for a death sentence.

Benson, AZ also has railroad crossings? I only remember seeing three crossings there but there may be more. The three I saw all had lights and gates and the second crossing (the one by the Amtrak Stop) has beautiful bell sounds. The first crossing has four gates, (two that hang on a median) Benson is far east of Tucson on Interstate 10.

See the message above for Tucson. Too close to the Mexico border.

Have you had any problems with people talking to you who have offended you?

Plenty. When I first started out in 1999, I had one person talking to me, who kept on telling me to hotwire crossings. I got sick of this, that I blocked him from my buddies list, then a few months later he found me again. He kept on going on where he left off, and he got banned again. He hasn't spoken to me since. He does run a train website, I won't offer it now, but in the future, I may, depending on how angry I get thinking about it.

One other person who also runs a train website also did this, but upon knowing this, this person won't do it again. I won't give this person's website out of respect.

Also, back in 1999 I put up my AOL Instant Messenger account for everyone to use if they wanted to chat with me. I was getting too many weirdos who wanted to talk about nothing but dirty topics, so I've taken it down permanently. There are no plans to put it back up again. Only a select amount people know my IM account, and I'm only leaving it to them.

Are there any 8" signals that you know of that are in Arizona that are not pictured on the website? I'm wondering if Arizona has any 8" lights?

Yes There are a few UP crossings still have 8" lights but not very many. To my knowledge, BNSF, Arizona & California Railway have done away with all of their 8" lights. Apache Railway, and a few other shortline railroads around the White Mountains area still have 8" lights.

Do you think that you will ever get to Parker, Arizona? That's where the AZ&CA is located at!

I want to go there, but with my Grandfather's passing in 2007, and with the Vioxx settlement gone already, I'm very uncertain that will happen.

Do you think that you will ever get into New Mexico, once you get back to Arizona?

See the message above.

Do you think that you will ever get down to Yuma, Arizona?

A firm NO. They do have a lot of crossings there, but it's too close to the Mexico Border, and crime is pretty high over there, just as bad as Phoenix and Tucson.

What's the record for the most pictures and crossings posted in one update?

2,174 new pictures on August 13, 2010.
100 new crossings on August 13, 2010.

1,845 new pictures, and 80 new crossings were sent in by TrainmanKight alone for the August 13, 2010 update.

I'm never allowing this record to be broken again. The maximum amount of pictures to be sent in will be a combined total 999 for all regulars.

What's your favorite railroad?

I actually have two. They're both defunct now unfortunately.

My favorites are Southern Pacific and ATSF. Both UP, BNSF and SJVR are making too many mistakes, and CSX is well known for derailing all the time. For current railroads, I have no favorites, because they don't seem to be good enough for my taste.

Have any plans with getting work with the railroad as a signal person? (NEW)

There are a multitude of factors, but the answer is esentially "NO".

Many factors such as how railroads operate, down to the FRA and AREMA with their guidelines don't sit well with me. I'm too much of a foamer to want to change things. The only lights I would use are 8" and 12"x20". I would take all the 24" down and cut the 4" off and put them back up as 20". I'd put LEDs up in all crossing signals, even if I have to make the LEDs myself. I'm also not a big fan of gates, and would prefer to remove nearly 80% of them. Many railroads would not put up with this, so I'm saving them the trouble, and not even trying.

Also, the cost of around $6,500 for training is too much money.

Have any plans on going back to California?

Unless I win the lottery, no.

What's your favorite train horn?

My #1 favorite is the Nathan P3 (old cast).

My #2 favorite is the Leslie RS3L.

What's your favorite mechanical bell?

1) US&S Teardrop
2) WRRS Mini
3) WCH Mechanical
5) Safetran Hybrid
6) Safetran Mechanical
7) Griswold
9) US&S Mechanical
10) WCH/FS
11) Federal Signals
12) Modern Industries
13) WRRS Mechanical
14) GRS Mechanical

What's your favorite electronic bell?

1) Safetran Type 1
2) Safetran Type 3 (especially the high pitched tone)
3) ASC
4) GS Type 1
5) Safetran Type 2
6) US&S
7) GS Type 2
8) WCH Type 3
9) WCH Type 2
10) WCH type 1.5
11) WCH type 1

New questions will show up from time to time.