Other than seeing steam engines at Knott's or Disneyland as a kid, the first live encounter on a real railroad was a family train ride on the California Western.
Here is the California Western 45 coming out to start her day on a trip to Willits.
Next the CWRR 45 was caught on the point of her train in 1972.
1973 found the family in Durango, Colorado getting ready for the bus to Silverton and the Rio Grande Silverton train back. Here the K-36 473 is coming out of the shops.
A few minutes later, here is another shot of the K-36 waiting for the day's duty.
1974 found the Family at Expo 74 in Spokane, Washington where I had my first encounter with the Union Pacific 4-8-4 8444 on display there.
On a Santa Fe Shop Tour in San Bernardino, I took this picture of the Southern Pacific 4-10-2 waiting to be moved someday to the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society site in Pomona, California. The display of the American Freedom Train finally allowed the 5021 to reach it final display site by rail in Pomona.
The American Freedom Train visited Anaheim in January of 1976 and I took my first night shot ever to record this image of the former Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449.
The family trip in 1976 took us to Canada where in North Vancouver I took the picture of the Royal Hudson on the British Columbia Railroad.
In 1977, the Southern Pacific AFT 4449 returned to Portland on an Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion and we caught him heading west through Colton, California.
I took my first moving roster shot of the 4449 a moment later.