Showing posts from February, 2020

You Can See Economic History in Nebraska's Satellite Imagery

The accessibility of satellite imagery has opened up a treasure trove of interesting things that might otherwise remain hidden in plain sight. I've past mentioned scarchitecture in this blog before, where the historic tracks of railroads, canals, roads, and other transportation systems can result in oddly-angled buildings which offer clues of the past. Others have noticed geography playing a role in other arenas of history as well, as geologist Steven Dutch noted that the more Democratic Black Belt in Alabama matched up nearly perfectly with a 100 Million year old rock formation. (Wired) Similarly, I noticed something interesting in regards to my abandoned railroad map , with regard to the proximity of three railroad lines that had significant portions of their routes that were never built. These were three related branches of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad that never reached their full extent in central Nebraska. Today we explore why they were never completed.

The Rio Grande Southern Railroad

The Rio Grande Southern Railroad was a narrow-gauge line that ran from Durango, CO to Ridgway, CO, along a roughly 160 mile route. ( Right of Way ) Image: "Railway station at Ophir, Colorado" 1940. Via Shorpy First founded in 1889, the road began construction the year after. "The RGS’s early revenues came mainly from the numerous silver and gold mines near Telluride, Ophir and Rico. Hauling hundreds of tons of precious metal ores and hundreds of passengers in and out of the area made the financial condition of the railroad extraordinarily strong for its first two and one-half years! " ( RGS History ) RGS 461 at Ridgway, CO. Photographer: Richard Kindig. Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo Collection. Unfortunately for the line, the silver panic of 1893 meant the newly opened line would face unforeseen financial difficulties from then on. RGS 2101 freight car. Unknown photographer: Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo Collection. Th