RAILFAN.NET - By Railfans for Railfans

Hopping up on the soapbox now, here's the Railfan.net Story....

I have always loved Trains and some of my earliest memories involve Trains and Railroading. I started my personal rail web site shortly after starting our ISP in 1995. I had tons of bandwidth and lots of storage space so why not give something back to the RR and Railfan community which has provided me with so much enjoyment over the years? As the site and the number of visitors to it grew larger it started to become more of a network unto itself. Enter Railfan.net, a "not intended for profit" vehicle for everyone to share their love of Trains and Railroading with everyone else at no cost, to the general public.

Railfan.net was started to allow preservationists and hobbyists to enjoy free of charge webspace. Many of the railroad related websites on the internet were severely crippled by a lack of web storage space or by extemely poor webserver performance. As an ISP, we recognized this and thought that our tremendous excess capacity could be the answer to a lot of prayers. It was the answer for a lot of people, far beyond our expectations. Late in 1998 it became apparent that Railfan.net's resource consumption had eclipsed that of our ISP business! Some of the sites which Railfan.net sponsors have become incredibly popular and consume prodigious amounts of data storage and internet bandwidth. To a great extent the massive alt.binaries.pictures.rail (ABPR) Photo Archives, at 812,110 photos and growing daily, has proven to be a large drain on the ISP.

We had to make the very hard decision to discontinue our free webspace program for railfans and historians. It was just costing us too much money and still is! We have allowed all previously existing sites to remain online with us free of charge so far, but economic realities may shut them down without your help.

The ABPR was costing us too much because many people had started to use our web based archives in lieu of their regular new providers, in effect "sucking us dry!" Rather than halt the ABPR archiving altogether, we decided to delay monthly archive postings until the beginning of the following month in order to reduce the financial impact on our ISP business.

Just browse through the links on our main page and you can see how many wonderful railroad related websites Railfan.net is paying for.

That's where you come in. With your help and the help of others like you, we can continue to provide these great resources to the railfan community.

When we started offering free webspace it was hoped that we would attract commercial sponsorship from the railroad, railfan and model railroad industry which would help us offset the costs of providing the free web services to the hobbyists and historians. That sponsorship never really materialized and the ISP business simply cannot afford to pay the frieght for Railfan.net any longer.

We've talked with a lot of people about how to raise the revenue to keep doing what we've done so well thus far and the only practical solution is to solicit individual and commercial sponsorship from people like you! We don't want to jam obnoxious and off-topic banner ads and popups in your face all the time and we just won't be reduced to doing that. We're a "pure" railfan network and we don't think that type of horrid commercialism has a place here. We would compromise for banners only in the case of Railfan and Rail Modeling related businesses for which many railfans will bear a genuine interest.