Posts

Showing posts from February, 2021

Wolf Road Prairie: An Abandoned Housing Development Turned Forest Preserve

Image
Wolf Road Prairie is located on the northwest corner of Wolf Road and 31st St in Westchester, IL, and like many of the forest preserves in the Chicago area, there is more to this place than initially meets the eye. It is not very large at just over .1 square miles,  but has an extensive mix of prairie, savanna and wetland and is home to more than 360 native plant species.  (Cook County Forest Preserve) Surrounded by development which is obstructed by fog in this photo, this is a hidden gem of the area. It also has sidewalks that enter the woods. Why would the Cook County Forest Preserve destroy prairie land just to make it easier to walk? The answer is they didn't. The sidewalks hold the clue to what this area was supposed to be; another housing development.  I visited this area in December of 2020, and what was initially a very quiet snow year, that somehow managed to snow during my visit. But that made the pictures I took that much better, I think, as it really expresses the empt

What I Learned Looking For an App Developer

Image
It's been about a month now, and in my mind, RailROWMap has been a huge success, and everything I've wanted it to be! I've heard from a few users using older phones that the maps may take some time to load, if they do at all, however in general, the app has been stable. That being said, I'm trying to fix some bugs that will help users of older phones better use the map. But this is the reality of owning an app, finishing it is just the beginning. Image: Nathaniel Abadji via Unsplash With that in mind, I figured I should discuss how we got here, and how this went from being a few months-long project to turning into nearly a year of starts and stops, and having to continuously share that the app was, in fact, coming, and what you can do to if you're looking to develop an app yourself! 1.) There are a LOT of app developers out there One of the reasons that I felt so strongly about having to have an app built was the ongoing transition of the internet from primarily b

State Routes That Cross State Lines

Image
In the hierarchy of road systems in the United States, state highways would usually be considered third, behind the Interstate Highway System and the United States Numbered Highway System . Numbered State Highways by their definition exist within their state only. Illinois Route 53 is a completely different route than Indiana Route 53 , for example. Occasionally, a number from one state will continue onto another state highway, a great example of this would be Route 200, which begins as Idaho Route 200 , becomes Montana Route 200 , which becomes North Dakota Route 200 , and finally Minnesota Route 200 . Each of these routes exist within its home state highway network. But in unusual circumstances, a state highway as part of its own highway network, can cut into another state briefly, and these are the highways we're going to talk about today. 1) New York Route 17 Route 17, known throughout much of the state as the Southern Tier Expressway , is the much earlier number for the

The East Troy Museum and Electric Railroad

Image
Keeping up with the recent past regarding blogs, here's our trip to the East Troy Railroad Museum on June 6th of last year! East Troy, WI was the westernmost stop on the electric railway from Milwaukee, known as the  Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company . Electric railway history in East Troy, WI dates back to nearly the turn of the 20th century in 1907, when electric railway building was booming across much of the United States, but especially in the urbanized sections of the Northeast, Midwest and Western US. Using electric motive power, this disorganized system nonetheless allowed commuters to connect to a major city from rural areas, and even inter-city connections via both steam and electric railways.  In Milwaukee's case, one could hop on to the MER&L Railway from East Troy and connect to Milwaukee. From there, you could connect to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad  and reach Chicago, make your way to the South Shore Line and reach South Ben

Up in Smoke: The Vanished Village of Pascalis, Quebec

Image
Guest blogger Alain Bernier has provided us with more history in his area of expertise in Northern Quebec, this time with a mining village that was known as Pascalis, which was sadly almost entirely destroyed in a 1944 forest fire. Hope you enjoy today's blog as always! Pascalis QC : A village gone up in smoke © Alain Bernier 2021  The discovery of gold in the 1910’s along the Cadillac mineralized fault in the Abitibi region of  the province of Quebec, Canada, drew thousands of people to the then unpopulated area straddling the Cadillac mineralized fault. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, settlements, hamlets, and villages were popping up all along the mineralized fault wherever gold was found.  The Pascalis township was such a place. The area was rich in gold deposits and soon 4 mines were in operation: Beaufor, Vicour, Cournor and Perron-Pascalis. A village of squatters named Perron developed and housed the miners.   The Beaufor Mine near Pascalis, 1927 The Vicour Mine near Pascalis, 194

Fenelon Place Elevator - Dubuque's Operating Funicular Railway

Image
While the State of Iowa as a whole may not be considered a hilly state, the same cannot be said for the City of Dubuque , which is located on the Mississippi River across from both Illinois and Wisconsin. The hills of the area offer a great location for a unique attraction: The Fenelon Place Elevator Company , which first operated under horse power in 1882. Top to bottom, the funicular railway is 189 feet tall and 296 feet long. We visited the elevator during a stop in Dubuque a few years back and decided it's finally time to shed a little light on this unique and interesting place! It is quite short, and quite steep, although I'm unsure if the website's claims of being the shortest and steepest scenic railway are truly accurate. I've been on one other funicular in my lifetime, the other one being the  Orient Express at Six Flags Magic Mountain, now known as the "Honda Express". This one has far better views and is much steeper, although the Magic Mountain o