A moral dilemma

traingeekboy Nov 30, 2008


How do you feel about harvesting old train relics?

  1. No, that is stealing. Lightning will come from the sky and kill me

    24 vote(s)
  2. I am not sure

    13 vote(s)
  3. If it was lying on the ground and was clearly old and discarded it is ok

    50 vote(s)
  4. I must have it in my house. I have power tools

    4 vote(s)
  5. My buddy will decoy the police while I dismantle this CTC signal on this class 1 railroad

    5 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. TrainMaster1

    TrainMaster1 TrainBoard Member

    As an owner of vintage diesel locomotives we have been hit repeatedly (once even by another railfan group restoring a locomotive) by thieves. We have had a $5000 windshield smashed so they could gain access to one of engines. Even had a genius show up at a work session and ask if we were stripping the engine and could they please have the builder's plate. Sorry, stealing is stealing. BTW, if you're close enough to see it on the ground, you're trespassing already. Duck your head getting in the squad car so you look good in your mug shot.
  2. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

    Theives have been stealing horns off active locomotives that are laying over till their next assignment in the Philadelphia area...lots of luck!
  3. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    And then there is the story of a tourist railroad running steam locomotives. Allegedly someone was caught trying to remove the whistle from a live locomotive as it was parked still under steam. He was lucky they caught him before he got it loose or he would have been cooked to the bone.
  4. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

    WOW!! Can't believe I missed this thread. Part of the answer lies in the age of the abandoned rail line and the land status. If the rail line is over 50 years old it is considered an archaeological (historic) property. If that same rail line is located on State or Federal property then it is ILLEGAL to remove artifacts. Fines up to $5,000.00 dollars and mandatory 10 year jail sentences await you if caught. Is that worth a rail spike?

    If, on the other hand, the rail line is less than 50 years old there are no antiquity laws protecting it. Additionally, if the rail line is on private property and you have the land owners permission you may remove items no matter how old the rail line is. I am happy to discuss the rules and regulations relating to the American Antiquities Act and subsequent laws with anyone either here or in a PM. KNOW THE LAW!
  5. EricB

    EricB TrainBoard Member

    I was going to post another situation that I thought might prove a point that it would be ok to get an article off railroad property. But I read this post:

    It is kind of hard to argue this logic.

  6. bryan9

    bryan9 TrainBoard Member

    The hallowedness of the ground is a factor...

    There are some wilderness relics, no matter how trivial (spikes, tie plates), that should be left in place, so that other seekers can see the evidence that there was once a great railroad at this place... I'm thinking Promontory, the entire Rio Grande Southern, the abandoned D&RGW narrow gauge lines, and doubtless there are more. Of course, just what "hallowed" means varies considerably from railfan to railfan, but there's presumably some common ground here.

    It's interesting to ponder the fact that the U.S. today has (I believe) less than half of the total railway mileage that it possessed in 1900. There is hardly a community that lacks a long-abandoned rail line, the evidence of which is quickly fading from memory and from view. Long, long ago, those lines were the lifeblood of tiny, rural communities, many of which are gone today as well. They brought newspapers, milk, and the mail, and they could take you to the county seat, the state capitol, the big city. For the really old stuff, I think it is appropriate to feel a sense of reverence and leave things as they are.

  7. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

    Out in the west here, we have the old Milwaukee Road right of way as a state trail now and it has a lot of old remnants along side the path. All that stuff needs to remain where it sits-old signals, line poles, bridge # signs, etc. for future gens to see. I'll be the first to admit though, I do have a couple insulaters off of fallen telephone poles, (pieces of old copper wire still attached), and an actual flattened railroad lattern I found in the weeds with "C,M,StP&P' stamped on it. If it's small stuff found out in fields or in the ditch next to the right-of-way, it's probably gonna' get toss out or buried and destroyed somehow anyway. As for yankin' a horn, or builder plate, or the genious stealing a whistle off a live steamer, to as lineside buildings, or actual property that you know is being used, that's just theft.
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