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“They gave us earplugs at check-in.” Why are so many RV parks near train tracks?

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By Nanci Dixon
I had to chuckle one night as we settled into bed. I heard the melancholy whistle of a train passing by and instantly knew we were at an RV park. I was chuckling because I have the ability to turn my hearing aids off; however, my husband is not so lucky. He can still hear the plaintive call of a train going by all night long.

I have noticed that as we RV across America a disproportional number of RV parks seem to be on top of neighboring train tracks. When I searched online for “campgrounds and train noise” hundreds of pages of comments and reviews came up about train noise! One commenter in an online RV forum said, “It’s just a natural attraction our RV parks have to have railroads.”

One set of train tracks was so close to our RV at one park, that as the trains went by, the entire motorhome shook! I should have known when we pulled in there would be a train nearby … they gave us earplugs at check-in. 

I understand that building an RV park is expensive, and buying a less-than-desirable piece of property will cut costs, but I also understand that a lot of RVers would prefer to be a short distance from the highway if only bedding down for a night. And with highways come cars, trucks and trains. Yup, cheap and proximity seem to go hand-in-hand.

We recently stopped for seven nights on our way from the Midwest to the Southwest. Six, yes SIX, of those nights we could hear trains. Six nights in bed I chuckled as my husband groaned.

Sure, I could use Google Earth and check the park location for tracks and highways. Sure, I could read reviews more thoroughly. But, personally, I think the sound is hauntingly beautiful. It echos of bygone days – of a time we think of as simpler, kinder. It probably wasn’t any simpler or any kinder, but nostalgia kicks in and I like to think so. Besides, I can chuckle, take out my hearing aids and not hear a thing. 

##RVT972

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Jeffrey Huff
8 months ago

Train noise is OK. As long as there is not the horn in use.

MrDisaster
8 months ago

The 4-H Elkhart County Fairgrounds, the home of several brand rallies is next to one of the busiest set of tracks that I have ever seen. The locals said there have been as many as 100 trains a day.

Sandi
8 months ago

My husband and I both love the sound of trains and consider it a plus in the reviews! Our theory is trains sounds calm our hobo spirit!

David F.
8 months ago

Grew up in a railroad town. Still live in one. One night, in a FS campground, sitting by the fire, heard a racket across the river! Had no idea a short line was over there, and enjoyed watching a smaller locomotive pull a few cars up this grade!!!

DAVE TELENKO
8 months ago

I was in Barstow Ca & was staying at a RV repair place where they let me stay over night! OMG, all night long all you could hear was the screeching of train brakes, seems Barstow is a HUGE train hub & this noise is constant 24 hours a day! Strange part about it is that before that I’ve been in Barstow many times on Jeep runs & never heard it then, but I suppose just stopping for gas & snacks you dont get a chance to enjoy the amenities! Ha Ha. LOL
Snoopy

Donald N Wright
8 months ago

I thought RV parks were supposed to be near train tracks, a busy highway, an Airport or a feed lot. Four stars if you are near all of them. I have also camped below towering Oaks and Pine trees, where squirrels dropped stuff all night long. The beautiful lake in Louisiana with one hundred flying insects per square foot of air, or the guy with a diesel generator on a trailer for his motorhome.

Bob Weinfurt
8 months ago

For me, it depends on how close they are. 1/4 mile away wouldn’t be an issue but within a few hundred feet is.

Richard O'Kelly
8 months ago

RV stands for Railroad View

Mary
8 months ago

Many years ago we were traveling and stopped to tent camp one night along the way in a city in Oregon. We got in fairly late and set up our tent and went to sleep. A few hours later we thought we were having and earthquake! The tent was shaking and there was a terrific noise. Turns our there was nothing between us and the railroad tracks but a hedge. We still chuckle when we tell that story.

Montgomery D Bonner
8 months ago

FWIW-RV Parks get the worse locations, WHY? Simple, the big wigs control the government in every place, they want all the nice housing at the best locations, near train tracks, near highways, lowland-floodplains, they are not going to build there, we RV’ers get what is undesirable for our parks. Either get used to it or quit. Thousand Trails, many, many moons ago, purchased land in places nice, Lake of the Springs is one of the best parks in their system. Chehalis another one, many of them are in nice locations, but as humans become like lemmings, they are building stuff near those parks, and the once nice ones are being overrun by humans. Until that stops, going to get worse.

CeeCee
8 months ago

It only makes sense to build permanent dwellings in quiet no-flood areas. I’m more concerned about run-down parks with questionable long-term residents. I can live with train noise for tonight.

Dawn
8 months ago

I grew up in a house only about a block from railroad tracks! It would shake my bed and rock me to sleep! It doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I love it. My mom always said the noise was soothing and kind of mournful. To each their own.

ChollyB
8 months ago

In my experience most RV parks in urban areas have railway noise issues. Part of it is economics and part is zoning. It is tough to get permits and when they are granted, the properties are less desirable. So if you want to be close to a city or town, be ready for railway noise.

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

We love trains. We stay at an RV park in Bowie, AZ every trip to and from Houston. It’s RIGHT NEXT to the RR tracks and the price reflects it. It’s a nice stay, with a LOT of trains running by. Doesn’t bother us a bit. In fact, we head outside to watch them go by in case there is some interesting stuff on a flatcar.
I’m reminded of the song by Vaughn Monroe called “In The Middle Of The House” from around 1956. It’s on YouTube.

Snayte
8 months ago

I only find the horn blowing to be bothersome. I also feel like it is pointless, with how quiet the interiors of modern cars are, some with active noise canceling, you can barely hear the horns anyway.

Paul B.
8 months ago

Sad article. Three times Nanci commented on ‘chuckling’ at her husband’s sad state. Maybe Mr. Dixon could take over campground selection and get a good night’s sleep. Of course Mrs. Dixon would have to be willing to forgo her nightly entertainment.

Robert
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul B.

Lighten up Francis…….

Vince Sadowski
8 months ago

I stayed in an rv park near Springfield, MO many years ago. I commented on the frequent trains passing by. The older man that owned the park asked me what “RV” stood for? I said I didn’t know. He replied railroad view.

Spike
8 months ago

I keep foam earplugs in the motorhome. I’m a light sleeper, so train or no trains, I put them in. Some nights I have been awakened thinking a train was nearby just to find it was the DW! 🙂

Zoning might be another reason campgrounds may be near RR tracks. An owner can’t just buy any piece of ground and put in an RV park.

Bob M
8 months ago

I have property in the Pocono’s thats 1/2 mile away from train tracks. A train comes by maybe 2 to 4 times per day. I like hearing trains, but wouldn’t want to camp by one that runs at night. My home in Scranton, Pa I can hear trains running about a mile away and I don’t mind since it’s only a once in a while during the day. What did drive me nuts was Steamtown National Park had a old steam engine that had a terrible sounding whistle they blew thru out the day on weekends. It was a few miles away.

Dr. Mike
8 months ago

I never thought about this.
we have two RV parks adjacent to RR tracks!

Mary Martin
8 months ago

i think an option for your poll should have been I’ll only stay if no other options. That would be me. Also “near the train tracks” is a very open description. We have stayed at parks where the tracks were directly behind us (that was kind of fun) and we heard the rumble of the engines and clanging of cars together but no actual trains moving through all night long. However, Still not a good nights sleep. Generally it’s a hard no for me. I am too light of a sleeper and I am that person who looks on google maps to see if tracks are nearby. I’ve learned the hard way. if You love the desert you will likely be camped by the tracks.

volnavy007
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary Martin

We stayed at one (in a crisis situation; couldn’t get a reservation anywhere else) that was not only next to the rail way but also had a gated crossing complete with blinking lights and clanging bell — and 14 trains that went by in 9 hours.

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