WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – From sun up to hours past sundown. In Bobby Hare’s perfect world, he would spend day and night watching trains.
“I record the trains when they come by east or west, and they give me a whole bunch of honks, and I be very happy,” said Bobby.
Bobby, 13, has always had a fascination with transportation.
“Not only does he watch YouTube videos all day long about trains, but he has actual HO-scaled trains. He studies the horns, so he knows what type of train is coming by the horn,” said Bobby’s mom Melissa Maser.
Bobby’s love for locomotives reached a new high when he and his mother found a train viewing area near Douglas and Washington in January. Since then, the two have become frequent visitors, spending upwards of 20 hours a week watching and recording the trains.
“My best friend Kristen told me about the Virtual Railfan, so we started watching it, and then, we asked them ‘hey, can we come up here and they are like yeah, come on just park up north towards the museum’ and that was the end,” Maser explained.
Within weeks, Bobby caught the attention of a Union Pacific crew.
“We would always see a young boy right in this vicinity, and he would always start waving at us, so we would start tooting the horn, and you know over time, he would keep giving us the fist pump for us to blow the horn so we would,” said Union Pacific Railroad Conductor Daniel Bechtel.
The wave and honk game went on for months. Bechtel said he and his coworkers could always count on Bobby to be in his “special spot.”
“Every great once in a while, we would see kids at a random road crossing or some other place that is close to the tracks, but never a young child so dedicated being out here every day rain or shine, sun up, sun down, didn’t matter Bobby was here,” Bechtel said.
The UP way
In March, Bechtel and the crew decided it was time to formally meet Bobby.
“So myself, Brian, and Jim took it upon ourselves to gather some of the stuff we had, and we stopped the train one day and got off,” he said.
“When they got out, they give me a hat, a backpack, and all these goodies,” Bobby smiled.
“I don’t think he went to bed until 5 in the morning. He was just so excited from it,” Maser said.
“As for why we did it, I can’t speak for those two, but for me, the kindness of my heart. That is all,” Bechtel said.
Since the March meeting, other train crews and nearby workers have come to know Bobby, and Bobby has come to know them. Maser said it’s only added to her son’s passion and eagerness to work on a train someday.
“It makes me very happy. He really wants to become an engineer, so I am helping support that drive. you know that enthusiasm for when he gets older,” she said.