I recently had one of those conversations modelers often have, when a non-modeler asks you how you got interested in trains. That stimulated the thoughts leading to this post.
In my own case, I seem to have been wired from the beginning to find trains interesting. My parents told me that as soon as I could recognize a train, I liked to look at them, and that this took place when I was quite young.
As it happens, there is documentation. The photo below was taken in front of the depot at Cotulla, Texas on February 25, 1942. My dad was working as an exploration geologist for Humble Oil (he worked all over west Texas and into Louisiana and Alabama), from about 1936 to 1942. That’s why we were in Cotulla (which lies between San Antonio and Laredo).
That’s me, of course, a few weeks shy of my second birthday, fascinated by what must have seemed an immense I-GN Ten-wheeler (the I-GN initials are right below the engine number on the cab). You can see the “M” of “Missouri Pacific Lines” in the upper right corner, on the tender.
With this background, it’s easy to answer how I got interested in trains: I was interested in them almost as soon as I could talk.