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Showing posts from 2021

Frienship Trail over Little Lake Butte Des Morts

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One of the smaller, but nonetheless quite picturesque rail trails we have visited over the course of our journey to trace the abandoned railroads of the world is the  Friendship Trail , also sometimes known as the Trestle Trail , which spans across the Little Lake Buttes des Morts between Fox Crossing and Menasha, WI. The trail is further part of a 3.5 mile system one can use to bike or walk around the lake, known by the tongue twister of "Loop the Little Lake", which also allows one to connect to Neenah. In its railroad days, it was part of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway , and unofficially known as the "Mile" Bridge , despite the fact that it is quite a bit shorter than that. Our visit came on a foggy and wet December afternoon which made the relatively short journey over the lake somewhat otherworldly, as I was unable to see land from the middle of it! Starting from Fritse Park in Fox Crossing, its somewhat hard to imagine this as anything but a walkway

Abandoned Railroad Map of Florida

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For my third static map of a state, I chose to create the State of Florida's abandoned railroad network in QGIS , instead of ArcGIS. I'm trying to learn the ins and outs of QGIS since I don't have a firstborn son to sacrifice to the ESRI corporation for the right to distribute maps on their platform, so this is another learning project for me, just as the maps of Illinois and Rhode Island have been. Even as QGIS is an open-source program, there are some things that it does that are far superior to ArcGIS, although the latter is probably a bit more user friendly in some ways. Without further digression, here's the map! Map of the State of Florida and its abandoned railroad corridors as of 2021. The addendum that I add to this map is that while I'm reasonably confident that most, if not all, mainline abandoned railroad corridors are on this map, I am certain that not all logging lines are on this map. The State was heavily logged at the beginning of the 20th century

The Abandoned Road and Railroad Bridges at Harpers Ferry

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Looking over both the Potomac River and the Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia , one can spot Civil War  and abolitionist history pretty much all over the place. But two spots we want to discuss are the abandoned bridge piers that are visible across each of the respective rivers. Both bridges suffered destruction before, during, and after the Civil War, but it would be not humanity, but Mother Nature that would ultimately destroy them.  Bollman Bridge over the Potomac River In the foreground, all that remains of this original railroad bridge over the Potomac are some piers. The active railroad bridge is in the background - it allows pedestrians to cross adjacent to trains. Despite being abandoned today, the Bollman Bridge is one of numerous similar bridges constructed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad which were designed by its namesake, Wendel Bollman. These ruins are from an 1868 installation of the bridge . As one might expect, given the history of Harpers Ferry and

Rethinking Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority

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An article I happened to stumble upon recently alluded to a big problem in Chicago and the surrounding region's transit infrastructure; namely that it is split into three parts. Metra handles the regional commuter rail of the Regional Transportation Authority , on paper as the " Northeast Illinois Regional Railroad Corporation ". Rolls right off the tongue. Metra 213 at Blue Island, IL. Photographer: Frank Novak, 1986. FRRandP photo collection. Pace handles suburban bus service, with very few of its routes entering the City of Chicago. Many of Pace's routes, especially their longer routes, date back to the numerous suburban bus systems , which did not usually often interact with one another, with the exception of those routes which replaced interurban rail systems, like the Chicago and West Towns Railway . Pace Bus 6666 at Woodfield Mall. The CTA handles electric rail (i.e. the "L" train) and bus service within the City and its inner ring suburbs. It is t

Tracks and Yaks: Railbiking Frostburg, MD

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This weekend, after a long hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic, we finally were able to hit the road and visit the nation's Capital, Washington D.C., as well as many other spots in the Mid-Atlantic Region. On the way back home, we crossed something off my bucket list by going on a railbiking tour. This particular one is located in Frostburg, MD. It's known as Tracks and Yaks , and runs on tracks that are also home to the Western Maryland Scenic Railway for about ten miles east of Frostburg. You ride the rails just east of Frostburg, Maryland on a custom bike.  A portion of the tracks where the GAP Trail crosses the WMSR and railbike right of way. I'm not sure if a better location exists for a rail biking excursion, since the tracks are almost entirely downhill, and exist not only along with the aforementioned WMSR, but are located adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, and offer a few opportunities to see bikers and hikers along that trail. Just like the WMSR, it us

"LPS 1921": An Abandoned Building at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

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What appears to be some kind of stone building from early in the 20th century, today is nothing more than a creepy and haunting part of an otherwise leisurely walk along the Waterfall Glen Trail near Lemont, IL. I first encountered this structure walking with friends in 2012, at the same time that I discovered the abandoned tracks that led into Argonne National Laboratory , which began a few hundred feet east of here along the trail. My initial thought that those two finds may be connected yielded no fruit at all, which led me to the obvious question:  What exactly is this structure, and what does "LPS 1921" mean?  It almost resembles a mausoleum with an open-air roof, although my guess is that it once had a roof that has been lost to time.  This is case where the truth is rather benign, as it is the site of a former nursery, or more accurately, it is a former administration building; the nursery was along the land adjacent to the structure. This is where trees and plants gr

The Hanover Railway: One of Illinois' Shortest Short Line Railways

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The Hanover Railway was a 2.5 mile line which connected the Village of Hanover  in Jo Daviess County, IL to the rest of the US railroad network via a connection with the Chicago Great Western Railway at North Hanover Station beginning in 1906. ( Right of way ) "Fast Freight. Hanover Railroad, Illinois". Undated postcard. Its most similar parallel would be the Illinois Midland Railway , which was the shortest independent railway in Illinois, and connected Newark to the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad along a less than two mile line, and like the Hanover, remained independent throughout its life, despite it connecting to a single, and much larger, entity.  Despite not being located on-line of a railroad, which was almost always the lifeline for small towns in the 19th century, Hanover had a significant amount of industry relative to its size, most notably the Hanover Woolen Mill , which was the largest such mill west of Chicago. Hanover Woolen Mill. Photo by CV Marcr