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Showing posts from November, 2018

The Ghosts of New York City's Expressway System

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While this blog is about New York City, I preface it with how I came to have an interest in the Interstate Highway System. As a child growing up outside of Chicago, I lived by two interstates, I-55 and I-355. I knew they had to be related somehow; what are the odds that roads with such similar numbers intersected by accident? I thankfully found out all one would need to know about the Interstate Highway System and US Routes in general from late-90's and early 00's websites like AARoads.com , Kurumi's 3-digit interstates page , and the International House of ZZYZX . Each had some very highly detailed information on what I was looking for, and would be the catalyst into the beginnings of my roadgeekery. Indeed, I-355 was a child interstate of I-55, in that it spurred off from 55 in a much shorter route than its parent. I was further interested in roads that were proposed, but never built, such as Chicago's Crosstown Expy , as well as completely decommissioned routes.

A North Dakota Railroad Town: Sims, ND

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Sims, ND was a stop on the original mainline of the Northern Pacific Railway . It was founded in 1883, with the largest gathering spot in the town, the Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church , being constructed the following year. It was named after George Sims, a Northern Pacific Executive. "Small towns like Sims grew up around the railroad, and served the railroad’s needs. Sims offered water and coal to fuel the steam engines on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Sims prospered from its association with the NPRR. The largest building in the photo is the hotel." ( SHSND ) "The Northern Pacific cut a line across North Dakota that was nearly straight. The line diverted south to Sims in order to get water and coal. With a railroad stop, Sims became an important shipping point for cattle west of Bismarck." ( ND Studies ) When it was no longer necessary for trains to gather water and coal for their journeys, a much straighter mainline was put in place between New Salem and Glen

The Everett-Snohomish Interurban Railway

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The simply named Everett-Snohomish Interurban Railway  was an electric line that ran between its namesake cities in Washington State for 9 miles, between 1903-1921. ( Right of way ) Junction of the steam and electric lines and trestle over the Northern & Pacific tracks. Street Railway Review, 1903. The line was originally owned by the Northern Pacific Railway , and the electric interurban replaced its local railway trains, allowing NP to focus on long distance trains. Despite its relatively short length, there were two draw bridges that were crossed through its track. Straight track and pole construction, double deck trestle 70 ft high and typical curve and overhead work. Street Railway Review, 1903. It met an early end in a 1921 flood, as the flood destroyed a trestle over the Snohomish River. Thanks as always for reading!

The Zip at Portland, OR's Oaks Park

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The Zip was a “rib-tickler” wooden roller coaster located at Oaks Park in Portland, OR, built in 1927. The Zip. Image: Mark Moore   Oaks Park was built as a trolley park for the Oregon Water Power & Railway Company in 1905, and unlike most trolley parks , is still in existence. At 60’ tall, the Zip was designed to be as thrilling and intense as possible, and was a shorter version of similar coaster models designed by Harry Traver , such as Ontario's  Crystal Beach Cyclone and Massachusetts'  Revere Beach Lightning . This model was known, ironically, as the  Cyclone Safety Coaster . One unique element of these designs was the use of steel for the structure, which helped improve maintenance and prevent fires, which was a huge issue for early wooden coasters. However, with the incredible curves and forces of the ride, steel would not delay the inevitable maintenance issues of this and other Traver designed rides. These coasters had nearly no straight track at all through t

How to Find, Trace and Share Abandoned Railroad Corridors (Updated April 2021)

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Our Abandoned and Out of Service Railroad Lines Map of lines across the world has gotten a ton of views and support from people across all sorts of interests and knowledge bases. For that, I thank you! But I never really explained how  I came to find all of these lines. So with that in mind, today's blog is going to go over how to use Google My Maps to create your own maps for people to find and view and criticize.  Of course, the magic of Google My Maps is that you can create maps of pretty much anything, without having to learn incredibly complex GIS systems and selling your soul to ESRI for a license to use ArcGIS. So this blog has been unusually popular, so I suppose I should continue to edit it since it appears people like to learn to make their own maps, so with that in mind, I should note that the map's progress has so far taken me five years, and while I've mapped about 95% of the abandoned and out of service railroad network in the US, it still isn't compl

Railroad Scarchitecture: 15 Hidden Pieces of Transportation History in the 15 Largest US Cities

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Scarchitecture , is a combination of the word scar and architecture, which refers to the remnants of former roads and railways hidden in today's cities, most easily identified in satellite imagery, thanks to the magic of Google Maps . I've already discussed examples in both Chicago and its suburbs . For today's blog, we're going all across the US in search of other examples of scarchitecture left behind by the days of railroading in major cities. Keep in mind that there are usually many examples of scarchitecture in cities both large and small, and I'm only going to show one for each city, so go and search for others yourself, and let me know in the comments of any interesting examples you find! 1) New York City - Lansing Ave & Edgewood Ave in Queens (40.66426, -73.7475) There are dozens of examples of scarchitecture in the Big Apple, and this one is of the most visually striking, given the grid system that exists to the southwest of here. Lansing Av

The Barnwell & Searchlight Railway

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The Barnwell & Searchlight Railway was an Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway affiliated short line railroad running between its namesake towns in California and Nevada, beginning operations in 1906. It became integrated into the AT&SF system entirely in 1911, becoming the Searchlight Branch. The Barnwell & Searchlight Railway map along with the California Arizona & Santa Fe right of way it met at Barnwell, CA. ( MojaveDesert.net )  Like many desert railroads, it owed its existence to gold speculators, but unlike others that were simply designed to tap into available ore mines, this had a little more complicated history. The Desert Gazette notes that this line was built by the Santa Fe and separately incorporated, spurred by efforts of promoters in the mining camp of Searchlight to built their own railway connection to the Salt Lake Route at Nipton." So, rather than have a competitor build a road, the Santa Fe beat them to it. With the 20/20 vision that is hind

The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad

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The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad connected Gordon, CA (north of Fresno) and the Southern Pacific Railroad with Big Creek in the foothills of California, with a total line length of just over 57 miles. Online Archive of California , "Scene of San Joaquin Eastern Railroad" at Huntington Lake, CA 1918. A.C. Mudge Photographer. It first started operating in 1912, and was part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project , where it transported men and supplies to project camps in order to complete the dam. Despite its singular purpose, it was a common carrier railroad, and thus freight and passengers unrelated to the project used the railroad as well. 4491 Steam Shovel, 9-27-1918. Photo: Huntington Museum, part of an incredible photo album of the San Joaquin & Eastern! The line was considered one of the most crooked lines in existence, with an incredible number of tight curves along its track, and yet in spite of this it was a standard gauge railroad. It had 1073 curves, 5.3%