Showing posts from May, 2018

5 Abandoned Railroads (In Places You'd Never Expect)

During the 19th Century, the railroad industry spread all across the world from its beginnings in the United Kingdom. The United States, Canada and Mexico all owe the industry greatly for developing their interior. Indeed, the American West would look a lot different today were it not for the railroad industry.  While large, intercontinental railroad lines make perfect sense, and are the backdrop for American lore, railroad have also been built all across the world, including many remote and obscure places. Here are some examples of railroads that have been built in extremely remote destinations. 1) " The Qoornoq X-press" - Qoornoq, Greenland (64.52932, -51.08905) With a population of about 56,000 people spread across a mostly frozen tundra, one wouldn't expect Greenland to have much, if any, railroads. That, for the most part is true, however, there have been a few railroads built for the specific purpose of transporting goods to and from boats. Such is t

The Forgotten Railways of Lake County, Illinois

Map of McHenry and Lake County's Railroad System in 1854. Source: Illinois Digital Archives As the County immediately north of Cook County and the City of Chicago, as well as south of Milwaukee, and with Lake Michigan to it's east, Lake County has a ton of railroad history, as many lines passed within it's borders. To this day, the railroad industry remains an integral part of the county's transportation infrastructure, as four passenger lines run within the county, en route to Chicago. Today's blog will be a focus on the history of Lake County's railroads. Thanks to Metra  for providing some of these histories on their website. ACTIVE LINES: Railroad service came to Lake County in the 1850's. In 1854, the Chicago & Milwaukee Railway began operations between it's namesake cities, and the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad followed shortly after, running trains from Chicago to Janesville. Both of these pioneering railroads a

The Abandoned Route 66 in McCook, IL

Image: Google Maps at 55th and Joliet Rd in McCook, IL While much of the former US 66 is driveable, there are some parts are not. One of the first such roadblocks for would be travelers heading from Chicago to Los Angeles via the Mother Road, now known as Joliet Rd, comes just outside of Chicago in McCook, IL, where the former Route is closed between 55th St and East Ave.  In 1998, cracks began developing in the roadway , and rapidly grew into pavement buckling. IDOT was forced to close the road, making traffic have to detour onto arterial streets. On either side of the roadbed, Vulcan Materials Company owned the land and was mining it hundreds of feet deep, causing the land under the road to give way.  Image: Rich Dinkela The cost of rebuilding the road to a safe condition would have cost $45 million and may not have been enough to solve the problem for good. IDOT instead chose to upgrade 55th St and East Ave and have traffic permanently use those roads to traverse through

5 Historic Roads You Can No Longer Drive On

I decided to take things off the rails with this blog and talk about roads. While all infrastructure needs to be updated over time, roads are rarely abandoned, unlike railroads. When a railroad line's existence can no longer be justified by its traffic volume, as a privately owned piece of infrastructure, it is sold off or liquidated, or abandoned. If the Main Street in your town is bypassed by a brand new six-lane freeway on the outskirts, it still serves a purpose to the townsfolk, and more importantly, is continuously funded by them. However, roads are not immune to abandonment either. Here are five roads you can no longer drive on today.  1) Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike (East of Breezewood, PA) Wikipedia Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Photo: Jgera5 Breezewood, PA is a strange little town when it comes to roads. It's home to one of the very  few traffic lights on an Interstate Highway, as to continue east on I-70 requires you to do a loop in Breezewood. East o

The High Line

A tree in bloom right in the middle of one of The High Line's rebuilt tracks, to show nature and its relationship to technology. The High Line is one of the best known Linear Parks in the world. I was lucky enough to experience this New York City gem for myself during a weekend trip on Cinco de Mayo. Here are some photos, a little history, and my own opinions of the park. The High Line does an excellent job of keeping the history of the line preserved, and accessible for future generations to understand. In this railfan's opinion, The High Line raises the bar for rail trails across the country. While many trails succeed in preserving and informing the users of it's past life as a railroad and the history behind it, The High Line takes it a step further by actually incorporating abandoned railroad tracks into it's design. These weren't the original tracks, but added as part of the landscape during construction. Further, the history and purpose of th