On the other hand, after three years, there's still plenty more to discover!
What started as a simple thought while walking on an abandoned railroad corridor one day, "I wonder how many abandoned railroads there are?" took me further than I'd ever thought possible, and spawned this map, this blog, my photography, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and an interest in railroad art and memorabilia.
|The bridge over US 45 along the Old Plank Rd Trail; among my favorite rail-trails in Chicago.|
|After slightly over a year's work, I had covered the Midwest fairly well, but much of the rest of the US was severely lacking.|
|Today, the map is much more full worldwide, but there's still a lot more to go.|
The map has also grown slightly in scale since last year's update. For one, the map has never differentiated between abandoned rights-of-way and lines that are simply out of service. As such, I renamed it from "Abandoned Railroad Rights of Way" to simply "Abandoned & Out of Service Railroad Lines". The point of the map has always been to show where railroads no longer run, whether it be through abandonment, rail banking, or simply disuse, but there are three layers which go somewhat beyond that scale.
The first is the unbuilt railroads layer, which currently has 47 railroad proposals, some of which were partially constructed, but which never ran a revenue train along the route.
|In black, the unbuilt New Mexico Central Railway, between Moriarty and San Antonito, NM|
There have been thousands of railroad proposals that never amounted to anything, and as such, I only add them to the map if their proposed right of way is easily traceable, or if they were historic in some way, or if their proposed existence made it onto maps. So far, I've found 47 worldwide.
The next is the reactivations layer. When a line goes out of service, or even abandoned, it isn't always the end of rail service, as abandonments are not necessarily a linear function of time. Sometimes if the demand is there, lines can come back into service, such as the old Southern Pacific line between Victoria and Rosenberg, TX, which was rebuilt by Kansas City Southern in 2009.
|The Green Layer shows reactivated lines saved from abandonment.|
|The ROW of the California Western Railroad, now a heritage line between Ft. Bragg and Willits, CA|
In my pursuit of abandoned rails, I have many of you to thank for your help, including the roughly 200 or so of you who have provided me with lines and information on the map! In addition, this map would also not be possible, or nearly as far along as it is, without the following resources;
Abandoned Rails and their Facebook Page
historicaerials.com and the USGS Historic Topo Map Explorer
Atlas Obscura, OnlyInYourState, and Harvard University
The individual contributors to OpenRailwayMap
Rail Map Online
Russ Nelson's list of Unbuilt Railroads
Historic Map Works
Thank you all!