Few visitors to Westinghouse Park notice the sign located in its back, northwest corner.
That’s not surprising since the message on it faces toward the railroad tracks, the same right of way over which trains have run daily for the last 165 years.
The sign may be a mystery even for those who see it.
Well, perhaps not that much of a mystery.
Foamers, a little internet research reveals, is one, slightly derogatory term for people who like to watch trains.
There are others terms, delineated as follows by one avid railroader’s reckoning.
Rail-fan – An otherwise normal person who enjoys the pursuit of railroad related activities. That could involve sub interests including but not limited to observing trains as they pass, photographing, researching, studying, discussing, modeling trains, not to mention the railroads of the past, present or future.
These people are hard to spot in other circles as they are functional in normal society.
Foamer – A person who apparently loses all mental control when in the presence of: an actual train, railroad tracks (and in some places railroad property, an item of railroad memorabilia, conversation or other communication related to the subject of railroading.
They are easy to detect as most of them are social disaster areas anyway.
Railroader – There are three categories.
- Non rail-fan – A person who could care less what the rest of us who fall in any of the above categories think about them. They are there to do a job, earn a living, and make it home safely every day till retirement.
- Closet rail-fan – A person who typically enjoys their job whether they admit it or not. They are likely to be industry insiders and participants of railroad related forums. They are easy to spot as they typically use aliases or nicknames but are otherwise forthright with their experiences and opinions, regardless of what foamers think.
- Rail-fan – A person who enjoys their profession and is willing to share their experiences and/or wisdom with the rest of the railfan community. They are easy to spot due to their honesty, integrity, and passion for railroading and railroad related subjects while feeling no need to hide their identity.
At any rate, Dick Wilford, longtime superintendent of the park, remembers that early in his tenure, an employee who was a true rail-fan who put the sign.
Whether or not this corner of Westinghouse Park actually served as a meeting place for generations of foamers remains something of an open question.
Anyone with personal memories, please get in touch.