The Frograil Railfan Store
[ Clicking any map entry below will take you directly to Amazon.com ]
Of all the resources a railfan needs, perhaps the most basic is a map. As a general rule, the better the map, the better the railfan experience. There is no more frustrating feeling than hearing a diesel horn blaring, and you don't know how to get trackside. Based on my personal experience, and well supplemented by the comments of many others, the DeLorme series of state atlases and gazetteers is without peer. If your current DeLorme map books are over 3-4 years old, you have a pleasant surprise when you get your first up-to-date version. The company has done an excellent job making the maps much more readable and easy to use.
To use my DeLorme 1993 North Carolina edition, I literally need a magnifying glass to follow railroad lines, but the 2001 West Virginia edition is amazingly easy to use, and detail has not been sacrificed. You'll love them and wear them out in a hurry -- these are combat railfan tools, not pretty books!
The DeLorme's are for use in the rural areas we railfans explore. For major metropolitan areas, something like the DeLorme format is necessary, but at a much higher resolution, so I've started to include some of ADC's atlases. These are mostly on the east coast, and will be a real help to the railfan in those area. Hopefully, this area of the Frograil Railfan Store will expand with time.
I've also included some other map books which should be in your armamentarium, and which I think you'll agree are of great value.
Note: DeLorme is constantly updating their map books. Therefore, there are periods of time when a state may not be available. States listed below in black and not underlined are currently not available. If you find otherwise, please let me know, via e-mail. Availability/non-availability can change quickly, so please keep checking in with the Frograil Railfan Store. Also, and this is important, when you're buying a state's atlas, spend a few minutes making sure you're getting the most current edition.
Note: This is obviously a work in progress, and will hopefully become greatly expanded. A fold-out Rand-McNally-type map for, say, the Washington, DC area is almost worthless, because many do not include rail lines at all, some only show rail lines that carry Amtrak trains, and the wear and tear on such a map is pretty heavy -- they disintegrate in a hurry. These ADC references are comprehensive, and you can easily navigate today's urban areas with them. They're excellent resources, and most are surprisingly inexpensive.
As most railfans know, Rand-McNally does not include railroad lines on its otherwise excellent road maps. There is only one offering from R-M which I do think is worthy of inclusion in the Railfan's Library, and that's the spiral-bound Deluxe Edition of its US/Canada/Mexico Road Atlas. When you plan a railfan vacation or excursion, you'll generally want to get a multi-state overview of where you're going and how to get there. This baby is perfect for that, and the fact that it's spiral bound adds tremendously to the usefulness of the book.
Here's a link to the book , and keep in mind that as the calendar year progresses, you'll probably see larger and larger discounts.
The Next Exit (TNE). For every Interstate highway in the country, this book tells you what services are available at each exit. Going to need gas in 200 miles? TNE tells not only that gas is available at exit 215, it tells you what they are: Exxon, Racetrack, Sheetz, etc. Restaurants, Wal-Marts, motels, hospitals, and more are included. If you're taking a several day railfan outing, you don't want to be without this book.
Here's the link to the book.