Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Elham Valley Railway

The Elham Valley Railway ran between Folkestone and Canterbury in the southeast United Kingdom. It was a product of competition between the South Eastern Railway and the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, as the two sought the railway traffic in the area. (Right of Way)

Unknown photographer via Pinterest. Etchinghill Railway Tunnel along the former route.
Built in 1887, it was just under 16 miles in length. As it ran primarily through rural areas throughout its life, it was never a successful operation.

According to Chris Rosindale, "Much of it can still be seen and walked on its route through the Elham Valley. This is a line which really should never have been built, it owed its existence to a fierce rivalry between the South Eastern Railway and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway over access to the Channel ports. It was built by one of the two companies as a blocking action to stop the other company from invading its 'territory.'

Barrie A.F. Clark's Rendition of Bishopsbourne Station, 1978

Nonetheless, the railway played a part in World War II, as it was transferred to the War Department, who retrofitted a large rail-mounted gun stationed to the line. After the conflict, the line passed back into civilian use, but the damage to the infrastructure was significant, and deemed too expensive to repair, as the area now was served by bus traffic. The line was closed in 1947.

Image: A rail gun along the EV Rwy during World War II.
A museum dedicated to its history, the Elham Valley Line Trust, lies immediately east of the right of way in Folkestone.

Thanks as always for reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Ohio River & Columbus Railway

The Ohio River & Columbus Railway ran from Sardinia, OH to Ripley, OH on the Ohio River, a distance of 24.6 miles. It ran along steam power, but was planned for electrification, and held other properties more similar to interurban railways than a short line railroad. Nicknamed, the "Relief and Comfort", it only operated for fourteen years.

OR&C Right of Way south of Georgetown, OH. Image: USGS Higgins Topo Map, 1931
The route opened in 1903 along a similar route proposed earlier by the Columbus & Maysville Railroad, a predecessor railroad to the Norfolk & Western, with whom the OR&C interchanged with at Sardinia.

Image: OR&C 4-6-0 Locomotive at Ripley, OH. Virginia Tech Archives.
Heading southeasterly along the Ohio River, the railroad planned to extend to Aberdeen, as well as completely electrify their right of way, but neither of these initiatives were accomplished on account of financial hardships. While the line had more favorable freight rates than the N&W, it ultimately faced more competition than cooperation with other area short lines and interurban railroads.

Ultimately, the financial ruin was too large to overcome, and a proposed sale of the line to the Cincinnati Georgetown and Portsmouth Railroad, an interurban railway, never materialized. The line was abandoned just 14 years after opening in 1917.

Much of the history for this post comes from this page:

Thanks as always for reading!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Forgotten Railways of Silverton, Colorado

While Silverton, CO is most famous as the terminus for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the town was a terminus for three abandoned railroad lines which ran to points north. During the operation of these lines, the Durango & Silverton was the Denver & Rio Grande's Silverton Branch, which came into service in 1882.

Nope, not this one! Image: D&S 481, c.1980. Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo Collection
The Silverton Railroad ran from Silverton to Ironton, CO between 1888-1926. It, along with the other two abandoned lines discussed in today's blog were owned by Otto Mears to reach various mines in the area north of Silverton. According to, "Mears' intention for the Silverton Railroad was to eventually reach Ouray. The sheer ruggedness of the north slope of Red Mountain Pass made the route very hostile to railways. Mears' originally surveyed route - his toll road - had sections of 19% grade, making it very unsuitable for anything but possibly a cog railway." ( Another Mears attempt to link to Ouray and Ironton was the Ouray & Ironton Electric Railway. The project was graded, but never built.

Silverton Railroad, Red Mountain Pass, 1888. Image via Legends of America.
The longest named road, the Silverton, Gladstone and Northerly Railroad, was ironically also the shortest, as it ran 7 miles north to Gladstone, CO. After 1915, it was the Gladstone Branch of the Silverton Northern Railroad. Chartered and built in 1899, it was abandoned in 1942. While Mears would come to own this line, he did not construct it, as the owners of the Gold King Mine did after his initial refusal to build another route in Colorado.

Image Link
Finally, the Silverton Northern Railroad ran 13 miles northeasterly toward Animas Forks, CO. In 1942 after years of inactivity, the track was repurposed for the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad to aid in the US war effort. Built in 1895, this was the last Mears project in the Silverton area. Mears originally envisioned this line to run to Lake City, CO, where it could connect to D&RG's Lake City Branch, but the line never ran past Animas Forks.

In 2013, it was proposed by the San Juan County Historical Society to reconstruct a section of the old right-of-way between Silverton and Howardsville, CO. I cannot find any information on their current status, as the website was last updated in 2016.

Map of Silverton, CO Railroad Lines:
In Blue (Left): The Silverton Railroad. In Green (Center): The SG&N. In Yellow (Right) the Silverton Northern.
In Red: The D&S south of Silverton to Durango.

Thanks as always for reading!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Old Colony and Newport Railroad

The Old Colony and Newport Railway was the product of a merger between two railroad charters in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Old Colony and Fall River Railroad merged with the Newport and Fall River Railroad, which had chartered a railroad running from Newport, RI to the Massachusetts state line. This merger allowed the line to continue to Fall River, MA, which it began doing so in 1864.

Steam engine along the Newport Branch. Image: Old Colony & Newport Railway
In 1865, with the acquisition of the Dighton and Somerset Railroad, provided a direct connection to Boston via Braintree, MA.

It, along with Cape Cod Railroad, merged in 1872 to become the Old Colony Railroad, which it remained until the company was leased to the New York New Haven & Hartford in 1893.

Image: "Two ladies are waiting at Middletown Station for the train to Newport." Trains Rhode Island
Traffic along the Newport Branch began to decline post World War I. Bus and automobile traffic replaced much of the passenger traffic. Service continually declined front then on, with the exception of military trains during World War II. The branch survived acquisition of the NYNH&H by Penn Central, and onto Conrail, who filed for its abandonment south of Fall River in the early 1970's.

The State of Rhode Island purchased the right of way, and today the line supports both a tourist train, the Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad, and the Rhode Island Division of Rail Explorers, a railbike excursion using the same right of way.

Image: Rail Explorers
From Fall River, MA to Melville, RI, the tracks are currently out of service. Here's the right of way, showing the tourist operation (in red), and the abandonment (in green).

N&NB Railroad Dinner Train. Image: Wikipedia Commons
A museum for the branch line closed in 2016.

Thanks as always for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Desert Bus: The Most Realistic Video Game of 1995

During the early 1990's, a moral panic ensued about sex and violence in video games and television. Games like Mortal Kombat and Night Trap pushed societal boundaries, in part because of how realistic each game looked. Sexually explicit and violent video games had existed since the Atari days, but in all of their 16-bit glory, these now were perceived as corrupting a generation.

Of course, these were outliers among most video games of the day, and in retrospect, did not really impact society, outside of being a catalyst for the creation of the ESRB. At the same time, a collection of games was being developed by entertainers Penn & Teller, known as Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors". The game included six mini-games, five of which were designed to trick players and their friends, much like the duo themselves.

Smoke and Mirrors box art and a screenshot for Desert Bus.
But the sixth game, Desert Bus, was a commentary against those who believed video games were, in fact, hazardous to society as whole. The "game" consisted of the player driving a bus from Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas, NV. Simple, right?

The bus traveled no faster than 45 mph, and the game took place in real time. Meaning that the 360 mile journey took just over eight hours.

There was little to no scenery or interaction along the route, outside of a bug hitting the windshield occasionally, and the ability to activate the horn on the bus. There was no pause button either. The instruction manual explains, "There's no pause feature. No, it's not an oversight. Does your life have a pause control?"

Here's an 8 hour long play through of the game.

The bus always veered slightly to the right, so the player had to constantly steer to maintain lane position. Moving off the road would disable the bus until a tow truck came along, and the tow truck towed the bus back to Tucson in real time. 

If, somehow, the player completed the journey, they would be rewarded. With a single point. After eight hours! Going back to Tucson, one could earn another point. It's been suggested that the game allowed a maximum of 99 points, which would take 33 real-time days of continuous play to achieve.

This was along a single, two-lane roadway. While the game was intentionally realistic to the point of not being entertaining in the slightest, the real life journey between Tucson and Las Vegas couldn't be rendered in 1995's technology. 

In reality, if you were traveling between Tucson-Las Vegas, you would use I-10, US-60, US-93 and the new I-11, which didn't exist in 1995. Also, you'd see a little more than just some cacti, as you'd go through places like Phoenix and the Hoover Dam as well. So if you've ever wished to simulate what a 360 mile long ride through the desert is like, this game is for you, but the experience is more like US-6 in Nevada.

A 10-mile straight section of US-6. Image by The American Southwest
Smoke and Mirrors never officially released despite being almost completely finished, as its developer, Absolute Entertainment, went out of business before the game could release. Only a few copies were ever distributed to journalists, which is what ROMs of the game are based off of. Nonetheless, Desert Bus has attracted a cult following, having been unofficially ported onto PC's, mobile and even the Atari 2600: 

The game, devoid of entertainment, sex, violence, or much of anything, was a biting social satire against those who felt that all video games should be banned or regulated. Based on that, I don't think its anywhere near the Worst Video Game of All Time, as everything that it was, and wasn't, was purely intentional. It was an eight-hour middle finger to Janet Reno and all the other politicians who let ignorance about a new form of entertainment and media dominate the national conversation. How could that be bad?

But if going against political figures isn't your thing, a charity fundraiser where participants play the game, Desert Bus for Hope, raised over $865,000 in 2019 alone. This money supports Child's Play, "dedicated to improving the lives of children undergoing treatment in the hospital with toys and games. The charity supports a network of over 100 hospitals worldwide.".

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Traverse City Leelanau and Manistique Railroad

The Traverse City Leelanau and Manistique Railroad was a railroad line built by the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad to built north from Traverse City, MI. Service ran north to Northport, MI beginning in 1901, and via a railcar ferry over Lake Michigan, connected to Manistique in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, with ferry service starting two years later in 1903. The ferry used a ship known as the Manistique for its journey between Northport and its namesake city.

Sutton's Bay Depot, c.1920. Image via ExploreVistas

In January, 1908, the Manistique sank in the harbor. It was temporarily replaced by an Ann Arbor car ferry but the ferry operation was discontinued in 1908. (Michigan Railroads)

A picture of the Manistique Ferry. Image: Michigan Railroads

In 1919, the line was reorganized as the Manistee & Northeastern Railroad, which served passenger and freight operations until 1955, when those were assumed by the Chesapeake & Ohio. Freight service declined over time, and passenger service ended in 1975.

Between 1989 and 1995, the Leelanau Scenic Railway ran along the branch to Sutton's Bay, MI. After the tourist operation folded, the line was abandoned. Today, the Leelanau Trail preserves the right of way between Traverse City and Sutton's Bay, with the line completely abandoned north of Sutton's Bay.

A switcher engine of the Leelanau Scenic Railroad showing the old M&NE livery. Image: Eddie Gross
Thanks as always for reading!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Pine Valley and the Oklahoma & Rich Mountain Railroad

The Oklahoma & Rich Mountain Railroad ran from Page, OK to Pine Valley, OK, presently known as Muse. Operations began in 1926 along the 17 mile route. (Right-of-Way)

O&RM RR 205, Unknown Photographer via Pinterest
While almost exclusively a logging railroad owned by the Pine Valley Lumber Company, a subsidiary of the Dierks Lumber & Coal Company, it was nonetheless a common carrier, and did have passenger service along its route, connecting passengers to the rest of the US rail network via its connection to the Kansas City Southern Railway at Page.

A.W. Goke and C.A. Hollopeter. 1931. Soil survey of LeFlore County, Oklahoma [map] via Texas Transportation Archive.

At the end of the line was Pine Valley, a town built by the company, encompassing a significant investment, but also reaching a population of roughly 1,500 during the profitable years of the company.

Oklahoma & Rich Mountain Railroads third motor bus #1 at Pine Valley, Oklahoma in 1937. Image via Pinterest
As the railroad depended almost exclusively on lumber, once forests were depleted around Pine Valley, the main traffic on the line dried up. Thus in 1941, the railroad was abandoned, and Pine Valley became a ghost town not much later.

Further Reading: Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Amazon)

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Southern Pacific Railroad's South Line (ex-El Paso & Southwestern)

The El Paso & Southwestern Railroad ran in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico during its existence. Constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century, the railway owned and operated many lines that connected to the mining industry. (Right-of-way)

Image: Paul McGuffin, 2010, via Abandoned Rails.

In 1912, the main line reached its full extent, extending from Tucson, AZ to El Paso, TX. The collapse of copper prices following World War I greatly affected the railroad, and it was leased to the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1924. The SP used the EP&SW as a parallel main line to their own Transcontinental Route, dubbing it the "South Line". 

EP&SW 168 at El Paso, TX. 1/21/1949. Image: Otto Perry via American-Rails
The South Line handled both passenger and freight trains, and remained profitable through its existence. Nonetheless, the Southern Pacific chose to abandon much of the South Line in favor of a single mainline between Tuscon-El Paso in 1959, since there were little sources of traffic along the route. The line remains in service between Anapra, NM and El Paso, TX in the east, and Rancho del Lago, AZ and Benson, AZ in the west.

Southern Pacific Railroad
Docket: 20737 7/28/1959 Section: 1(18)
"Appl. for auth. to abandon portions of (l) the South Line in the Tucson and Rio Grande Divisions between M.P. 1022.480 at or near Mescal, Ariz., and M.P. 1046.390 at Benson Junction, Ariz., a dist. of approx. 23.910 miles in Cochise County, Ariz, and (2) the South Line in the Rio Grande Division between M.P. 1108.941, at or near Douglas, Ariz. and M.P. 1317.817 at or near Anapra, N. Mex., at dist. of approx. 208.876 miles in Cochise County, Ariz. & Hidalgo, Grant, Luna and Dona Ana Counties, N. Mex., together with all sidings, spur tracks, facilities and appurtenances."
Citation: 312 ICC 685&696 (Abandoned Rails)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Kinkora Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad

The Columbus Kinkora & Springfield Railroad was chartered in 1870 to connect New Lisbon, NJ with Kinkora, NJ, 14 miles northwest. The right of way followed the earlier Delaware & Atlantic Railroad, a much earlier rail line ran along a similar right of way, first surveyed in 1827. (Right-of-Way)

Image: New Jersey Department of Transportation
Constructed and in service by the end of 1838, "the line used mule drawn carts riding on iron strapped wood rails primarily to haul wood and charcoal between New Lisbon and Kinkora." (Springfield Township Historical Society)

The line was abandoned at an unknown date before 1870, and the CK&S used its right of way.

Almost immediately after the Columbus Kinkora & Springfield Railroad was completed, it was leased in perpetuity to the Pennsylvania Railroad, becoming the Kinkora Branch after a complicated series of mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies early in its existence. It officially opened in 1872.

Image: Jobstown Station, Springfield Township Historical Society
Just nine years into its existence, about 3 miles of the line were abandoned between Lewistown and New Lisbon at the line's south end. The line rarely served much in the way of traffic until World War I, when its proximity to Fort Dix allowed it to transport troops to/from the base. World War II would once again enhance the line's viability for much the same reason.

After the Second World War, traffic declined once again, but the line would survive until the Penn Central Railroad petitioned for its abandonment in 1971. Abandonment was not granted until Conrail had assumed Penn Central's operations, finally ending the Kinkora Branch in 1982.

Image: Ben Kranefeld, "Though not the original underpass under Rt 130, the Kinkora Branch untilized this route under the state hwy. This newer concrete bridge was created in hopes of creating a "Rails to Trails" pathway" RR Picture Archives

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad was an independent line that ran from Baltimore, MD to York, PA, beginning service in 1901. Meandering through the hills, it was a 77 mile long route, despite the two cities only being 45 miles apart the way a crow flies. (Right of way)

The "Champagne Special" crossing the Sharon Trestle - Sept. 14, 1947. Image: Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society.
The "Ma and Pa" as it was known informally was formed from two earlier narrow-gauge railways; The Baltimore & Delta Railway, which became the  Baltimore and Lehigh Railway, and the York and Peach Bottom Railway, which became the York Southern. As neither was profitable, they merged to combine the route into one, and re-gaugued the right of way into standard gauge.

Despite automobile competition, the railway began to be profitable post-merger, and continued to be up until the Great Depression. World War II would cement profits once again, but after the war, carloads significantly declined. In 1954, the Railway Express Agency mail contract was cancelled by the U.S. Postal Service, and at the same time, the Ma&Pa ended passenger rail. Almost all right of way in Maryland was abandoned in 1958, while industrial operations kept much of the Pennsylvania section open until 1984.

Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad 1502. Image: Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society.
About 3 miles of the old right of way is preserved between Laurel and Muddy Creek Forks, PA, as the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society operates a heritage railway along the line.

Image: The last "Ma and Pa" train departs Towson, Maryland, on June 11, 1958. Wikipedia Commons.
Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad 1506 taken in 1993. Photographer: HE Brouse

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Ottoman Railway Ruins in Nitzana, Israel

In 1917, during World War I, the British and the Ottoman Empire were engaged in battle in and around the Sinai and Gaza regions of present-day Egypt and Israel. At the center of the battle was an Ottoman Railway line running from Be'er Sheva to Hafir el Auja. (Wikipedia)

The railway was being extended south and west from Hafir el Auja to the Suez Canal, making it a strategically important piece of infrastructure that would significantly increase the Ottomans' military capabilities in the region. As such, it was a target for the British and her allies.

13 Miles of the railway line were destroyed by troops from New Zealand on May 23rd, 1917, with more stretches destroyed the next day, in a significant victory for the British. (Route on the Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines Map)

To this day, the only part of the railway that was rebuilt currently runs from Ramat Hovav to Be'er Sheva in Israel. Within present-day Egypt, the railway had been completed to an outpost known as El Kossaima, over 100 miles from the Suez Canal, but the project never restarted after the war.

Ruins in Nitzana, Israel of a railway station along the route. (Israel Today)

The Dodge City Montezuma & Trinidad Railway

The Dodge City Montezuma & Trinidad Railway was a short lived railroad operating between Dodge City and Montezuma, KS. (Right of Way)

Looking at a map today, you'll notice Dodge City and Montezuma are still connected by rail. However, the Montezuma that exists today was platted by the Atchison Topkea & Santa Fe Railway in 1912, almost two decades after the original Montezuma, KS would become a ghost town.

Original alignment.

This particular line ran slightly south of the current AT&SF alignment, beginning service around 1890. Its entire existence was the result of three towns vying for county seat of Gray County, KS. Ingalls and Cimarron were both located on another branch of the AT&SF; while Montezuma had no rail connection. In exchange for dropping their fight to become county seat, a railroad promoter promised to build a line to Montezuma.

True to his word, Montezuma got a rail connection, but one that would last less than five years. The line was abandoned in 1894. The Santa Fe briefly owned the right of way and planned to reactivate the line, but chose instead to build their own grade, and settle a new Montezuma along that right of way.…/bu…/Rail/publications/ksrailpln06.pdf

Friday, June 5, 2020

The AASHO Road Test: A Breakthrough in Pavement Technology

The 1950's were an incredibly transformative time in American transportation, with the passing of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Driving on I-80 through Central Illinois, you will pass a sign that offers only a small clue of just how expansive this shift was, showcasing one of the many pieces of building our highways, the pavement itself.

Perhaps you underestimate the amount of engineering and science that pavement materials go through, and this test is a great example of this in action, when the stakes were extremely high, as the largest road expansion in history was in its infancy.

Starting in 1956, AASHO, the predecessor to today's AASHTO, began a $27 Million project tp study different pavement materials, and the impacts that traffic would have on those materials.

Image: Google Street View
The AASHO Road Test was instrumental in scientific breakthroughs on how pavements responded to traffic load, weights, climate impacts, and how long pavement would last. 

Before I-80 was built, the Test Road was a loop as described below:

The AASHO Road Test: Report 1, History and Description of the Project.  Special Report 61A.  Highway Research Board, National Academy of Sciences.  Washington, D.C.
Between 1958-1960, actual tests were conducted at the site using different kinds of vehicles. By the time the test was done, the straight sections of the track were incorporated into the design of I-80. 

In addition to the sign, a small track of pavement is preserved at the site.

Google Satellite Imagery. The loop is located a few miles west of Ottawa on the south side of I-80.
The results and information derived from the Tests cannot be overlooked, as the design of pavements and bridges on the Interstate Highway System largely followed its result. There are many roadside curiosities out there, but this one is one of the most interesting when it comes to the design of roads themselves. Unfortunately, there's no way to visit this site, outside of driving adjacent to it at 70 mph. 

Thanks as always for reading!

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Kenosha & Rockford Railroad

The Kenosha & Rockford Railroad, or the KD Line, was first organized by Kenosha area businessmen as the Kenosha, Rockford and Rock Island Railroad. First proposed to connect Kenosha with Beloit, WI, Beloit showed little interest in the road, and promoters chose to connect the line to Rockford, IL instead, a distance of 68 miles. It opened in 1861 after eight years of planning and construction. 

Image: Mark Atkinson Collection via

The line transported passengers between the two cities, often to tourist sites near Silver Lake and Twin Lakes, WI. Those same lakes became important sources for ice before the days of refrigeration. Two ice spurs connected to lakes at Paddock Lake and Powers Lake

Shown in Periwinkle are the ice spurs this line connected to. The abandoned mainline is in blue. Image: Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines

Early in the 20th century, it was acquired by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, who named it the Kenosha Division, or "KD Line". 

A video of satellite imagery of the mainline in 1939 just post-abandonment.
Most of the line was abandoned in 1939, but portions of the line are still active between Rockford-Loves Park, Chemung-Harvard, and Kenosha-Pleasant Prairie.

Part of the right of way is submerged under Pierce Lake, which in the days of railroading was a rock quarry.

The Long Prairie Trail uses the right of way between Capron, IL and Caledonia, IL, with the Hebron Rail Trail running near Hebron, IL.

Image: "A train on the KD Line speeds northeast through the cut in the limestone which gave Rock Cut its name. From the treeline down, this area is now under water as part of Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park. The tracks were removed before the lake was filled. (Brian Landis collection)" via Old Northwest Territory
Image: "A train on the KD Line speeds northeast through the cut in the limestone which gave Rock Cut its name. From the treeline down, this area is now under water as part of Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park. The tracks were removed before the lake was filled. (Brian Landis collection)" via Old Northwest Territory.

Further Reading: Rockford Area Railroads, by Brian Landis. (Amazon)

Thanks as always for reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

El Firdan Railway Bridge - A Bridge Not Far Enough

In the context of railway infrastructure, "Transcontinental" typically refers to the original Transcontinental Railroad, particularly in the United States. But very few pieces of infrastructure can truly be considered transcontinental. 

One that can be considered is Egypt's El Ferdan Railway Bridge (Google Maps), which is a dual swing bridge that spans the Suez Canal, connecting Africa with Asia. The bridge opened in 2001, and is (or was) the longest swing bridge in the world. Between 2001-2015, it served the Egyptian National Railway

Railway bridges over the Suez Canal have had a tendency to not last very long, as it was the fifth bridge over the Suez Canal built in that location. 

The first bridge over the Suez was built in April 1918 for the Sinai Military Railway, but removed after World War I as it was a hindrance to shipping. 

A swing bridge built in 1942 was removed in 1947 after being damaged by a steamship. 

A dual swing bridge replaced it in 1954, but was closed in 1956 after the Suez Crisis. 

It was replaced in 1963, only to be destroyed in 1967 during the Six-Day War with Israel. 

Image credit: H Nawara, Wikipedia Commons

While this bridge has had the longest life of any railway bridge in the vicinity, it has not operated since 2015. The Suez Canal was expanded to include a second shipping line, causing the rail line that used the bridge to end at a dead end. A new railway tunnel is planned to connect the railway east of the Suez to the rest of Egypt's railway network, rendering the El Ferdan Railway bridge obsolete. 

Al Firdan area, with the out-of-service right of way. The Maroon color is for the African continent, while the Yellow is for Asia.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Dulaney Railroad: Delaware's First Abandoned Railroad

Within the State of Delaware, the first railroad built south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal was also the first railroad abandoned within the state, known as the Dulaney Railroad. 

Walter Dulaney owned land in western Delaware about six miles west of present-day Clayton. The area was eventually known as "Dulaney Manor" or simply "Dulaney". 

The land at the time was heavily timbered, and to clear land for farming, in addition to making money from the timber industry, a railroad was constructed from Dulaney east to a point on the Smyrna River known as  Brick Store Landing, where the timber could be shipped.

Image: Delaware DOT. Note the Dulaney RR in the central part of the state.

Operation began in 1849, using wooden rails for the roughly 10-mile distance, and ended just one year later. Using a single horse for power, it was not a common-carrier railroad, and built for and used exclusively by the Dulaney family. The right of way generally followed present-day Clayton-Delaney Rd and Brick Store Landing Rd. 

By virute of its 1850 abandonment, it marks the first abandoned railroad in Delaware, although as it was not a common carrier operation, the first chartered railroad abandoned in the state belongs to the New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad, which was abandoned west of Bear, DE in 1859. 

Links to cited works in this blog - 
History of Delaware : 1609-1888: Local history

Thanks as always for reading!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Iowa's First Abandoned Railway: The Farmers Union Railroad

Despite being one of hundreds of failed short-lined railroads throughout the United States, the Farmers Union Railroad is notable for a number of reasons.

In 1875, the company was incorporated in the State of Iowa to build a road from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River in the central part of the state, a distance of about 300 miles.

What wound up being built was a wooden-railed, narrow-gauge railway between Liscomb, IA and Beaman, IA, roughly between 10-12 miles in length. One engine and 10 cars was all the company could afford to run the route. As a result of poor construction, rolling stock, and lack of financing, the railroad lasted only months into 1876. I simply can't imagine a wooden railway operating anywhere near the length that the original charter for the road was considering.

From Liscomb east to Beaman, IA, almost no trace of this railroad exists today, and as far as we can tell, no photographs exist of the road itself. By virtue of its 1876 abandonment, it was the first abandoned railroad in Iowa.

Not all was lost of the proposal, however. Between Vinton, IA and Trayer, IA, the Burlington Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway completed part of the right of way of the route, which fared much better, and passed down to the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, and later the Iowa Northern Railway short line before being abandoned in the early 2000's. It is now the Old Creamery Trail.

Iowa has a ton of abandoned railways, which we do our best to map. The State of Iowa has been a fantastic resource to that end, with their own map of railroad abandonments within the state.

Image: Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines

Thanks as always for reading!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Visiting Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu (By Jet Lagged Jaff)

My Visit to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
Modern Day Machu Picchu. Image: Chelsea Cook, Pexels
One of history's most famous archaeological sites is that of Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city built on the side of Huayna Picchu Mountain, located in present day Peru. In January, our friend JetLaggedJaff was able to visit this amazing world heritage site, and share his thoughts on visiting. Take it away!

Before I discuss my visit to this magnificent civilization, I want to give a little basic history behind it.
As some of you may know, Machu Picchu was built back in the 15th century and eventually abandoned in the 16th century. Machu Picchu was used as a royal estate built by the Incan Emperor Pachacuti. Construction of Machu Picchu began in the 14th century, after the Incans defeated the Chanca people in the territory. It was built as a refuge for the Incan aristocrats. 

Located nearly 8000' above sea level, mountainous weather and fog are common climactic elements.
There is no known reason why the Incan citadel was abandoned.  Historians suggest that a number of outbreaks caused the fall of the Incan people, eventually causing it to be abandoned. In 1572, the last of its rulers came to an end. Historians also suggest that political campaigns done by the conquistadores caused it to fall and be abandoned. Aside from these hypotheses, there is no clear evidence why this amazing civilization became abandoned. At this point, there are only theories with no hard evidence.

How does one get to Machu Picchu? 

So first, I flew into Cusco, Peru. Then, you have to transfer to a train to Aguas Calientes. If you are going around their summer time, you will be using a bi-modal (bus/train) service. There are only 2 train companies tourists can choose from, and have very limited schedules; they are PeruRail and IncaRail. 
Since I went in their summer time, I took a bimodal service through IncaRail to Aguas Calientes and spent the night there. I took a bus from Cusco to Ollatantaytambo, which was about 2 hours, and then transferred to a train to Aguas Calientes which took another 2 hours.  Overall, I enjoyed my experience on the IncaRail and it was overall, an amazing experience. There was drink and snack service, the people on the train along with the staff were very polite, and the views on the Andes mountains were breathtaking. 

Pictures and words can only do so much, eventually you need to visit these places yourself!
From Aguas Calientes, you can either hike up the mountain where Machu Picchu is, which takes about 2 hours, or you can take a 30 minute bus ride. I ended up taking a bus up to Machu Picchu so that I could maximize my time. Machu Picchu only allows you to visit for a certain amount of time, so that the flow of tourists is constantly running, and to prevent overcrowding. 

Image of the Machu Picchu trail map via The Only Peru Guide
Machu Picchu was like stepping into a piece of history and seeing firsthand how the Incan civilization lived and operated. You can see the different houses that people lived in, the different temples that are present in Machu Picchu, the farming terraces, and the many llamas and alpacas that were roaming around Machu Picchu, and let me tell you, there were a lot. It was an amazing experience and you won’t regret ever going there. If you make a trip to South America, this amazing landmark is a must!

After I visited Machu Picchu, I then journeyed to the mountain of  Huayna Picchu to begin my hike to the very top!

While Machu Picchu sits at just under 8000', Huayna Pichu reaches a maximum height of nearly 9000 feet!
Before I discuss my visit to Huayna Picchu, I want to give a little basic history behind it. 

Huayna Picchu is the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu. It was home to the high priest and local virgins at the top of the mountain, with colonies built along the track to the top and descending onto the bottom. Every day before sunrise, a small group of people, along with the high priest would descend down into Machu Picchu to signal the beginning of a new day. 

It was also the look out point for Machu Picchu in case of any threats from the surrounding tribes. Thanks to Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu was always prepared for any potential invasions. 

You can see nearly everything from the top of the site.
I got the chance to climb Huayna Picchu. It was an amazing, but very challenging experience. It was my first time mountain climbing and it was definitely exhausting! Was it worth it? Yes! When you get to the top of the mountain, which takes about two to three hours to ascend, you get beautiful views of Machu Picchu and of the Andes Mountains. 

Once I reached the top, I did not want to come down, it was such a thrilling experience! Do I recommend doing this? Yes, but with proper preparation. Before visiting, I suggest training for it by running, climbing, or hiking. While you don’t have to be in top physical condition, some preparation will definitely pay off in the long run. Before climbing, I recommend stretching, warming up, and bringing lots of water. Trust me, it will make the climb that much easier, but it still will be challenging. Lastly, pack some good running shoes or hiking boots. 

Overall, visiting these places was an experience I will never forget! I went to Peru for one week, and planning the Machu and Huayna Picchu parts of the trip was probably the most time consuming, but it was definitely worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. Once the travel restrictions have been listed, maybe you can visit this wonderful place yourself. If you want to know more about how you can also be prepared for your travel, read one of my latest blogs on common fears that people have when traveling and how you can conquer them. 

Thank you for reading and for your support and this is Jet Lagged Jaff taking off until next time! Goodbye for now! If you need any travel tips or support, please send me a message on Facebook through the Jet Lagged Jaff page or at 
Also, please check out my travel blog! I regularly post once every one to two weeks on different travel tips and destinations that I recommend.

Further reading: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (eBay) (Amazon)