Friday, January 24, 2020

The Partially-Built Ocean Shore Railroad (San Francisco to Santa Cruz, CA)

The Ocean Shore Railroad was planned to connect San Francisco with Santa Cruz, CA, with construction beginning in 1905 at both ends of the route.

Image and History

Just one year later, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 occurred, and caused major damage to the route, and forced the line to become two separate projects; San Francisco-Tunitas Creek, and Santa Cruz to Swanton.

Within San Francisco, the right of way was electrified, and portions of the route are still in service as part of the BART System. Outside of San Francisco, the right of way ran along the Pacific Ocean, paralleling the modern-day CA-1 (Pacific Coast Hwy).

The Swanton line found partial use by a logging company, but by 1920, the San Francisco-Tunitas Creek line was abandoned, outside of portions of the route that were incorporated into Rapid Transit lines. Both the inability to connect San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and increased competition from automobiles and roads were contributing factors in the line's abandonment.

Between Davenport and Santa Cruz, the line is still in service, having been passed down to Union Pacific Railroad.

Right of Way via Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad lines map.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago, IL

Originally named Grand Blvd, and later S Park Avenue (or S Park Way), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago, IL became the first street named after the civil-rights leader, following his assassination in 1968.

Image: Wendell Huston, DNAInfo
Today there are over 700 streets named in his honor. Not every name change has been without controversy, however, as Kansas City, Missouri attempted to rename a historic street name, The Paseo, after MLK Jr., to which voters overwhelmingly objected.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Washington, Alexandria, & Mt. Vernon Electric Railway

The Washington, Alexandria, & Mt. Vernon Electric Railway connected Arlington, VA at present-day Rosslyn station with Mount Vernon, about 15 miles south, with service starting in 1892. (right-of-way)

Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway, n.d., Visual Studies Collection, Fairfax County Public Library Historical Photographs, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
The line was granted permission to connect with the District of Columbia via a barge on the Potomac, but this was never acted upon. Its location in eastern Virginia meant that there were many iconic American landmarks along its path, such as George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. The line also used the present-day right-of-way of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in spots, and part of the line ran through Arlington National Cemetery and the campus of the Pentagon. The line merged with another interurban line, the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway to form the Washington-Virginia Railway in 1913. But the combined company would not last long, as competition from automobiles and buses left the interurban in a position like many others across the United States. By 1932, the trolleys would make their last run along the route. History

Friday, December 20, 2019

STB Abandonment AB_1291_0_X

The Rockdale, Sandow & Southern Railroad connects with the Union Pacific Railroad at Marjorie, TX, running about six miles south to a smelter at Alcoa, TX.

Photo: Wes Carr via

In November 2019, its parent company Alcoa Energy Services filed a petition to abandon the line, citing no current demand for rail service and no apparent traffic prospects.

In the filing, it leaves open the potential for part of the right of way to remain open disconnected from the rest of the US rail network, which would make the line not subject to STB regulation.

The line has been in service since 1923, with common carrier service since 1952. The only real traffic came from the metals industry, as the line hauled mostly aluminium products.

STB Website: Search for AB_1291_0_X

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway

The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway connected its namesake towns in Colorado, beginning in 1897. (right-of-way)

Image: Cathedral Park, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"The train tracks belong to the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway." Photochrom print by the Detroit Photographic Co. copyrighted 1901. From the Photochrom Prints Collection, Library of Congress.

It was built during Colorado Springs' second gold rush during the 1890's, but faced competition from many of the other railroads built to tap into the mines at Cripple Creek. Despite the rugged terrain it ran through, it was a standard gauge line.

The line changed hands a few times during the 1910's, before finally becoming part of the Cripple Creek Central Railway, who also controlled the nearby Midland Terminal Railway. By 1917, most traffic had been moved to the MTRwy, with 1919 being the last year of operations.

Almost all of the right of way today has been converted into Gold Camp Road.