Our New Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines Map, and Other Exciting Projects Coming Soon!

By now, hopefully you have heard that we are not using Google My Maps to host our Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines Map anymore, but rather hosting it on our own website. The old Google Map has been inaccessible for several weeks now, but I've been so busy working on the migration that I haven't really had a chance to blog or discuss the new map in as much detail as I've liked. 

I still have a bit much to do on making sure the descriptive data matches what was on the Google Map, including contributor information, so if you submitted a line to us, rest assured, your credit will be added to the new map soon enough!

The new map also allows users to change the basemap, the default basemap is now OpenStreetMap, but that can be changed by clicking the box in the lower left hand corner of the map.

Now you can select multiple views for the data, including satellite and topo views! My personal favorite is the USA Topo Maps!

Why the change? Well, given the incredible amount of data on the map, Google My Maps was becoming unwieldy. It still ran, but I could not make any changes to the data tables, such as adding abandonment dates as a separate field, and changing lines between layers was becoming an issue. In addition, while there are no limits to my knowledge on actual features within layers, you can only import a maximum of 2000, meaning that my map could not be backed up in its entirety and remade without a lot of work on the backend in the event of a data issue or hack. Thankfully in the five years that we had the map, it never happened, but it always worried me that something like that was about to occur.

Just like with the Google Map, clicking an individual line will bring up information on that line, and I am actively making sure that the data matches the Google Map:

The caption of the Allegheny Portage Railroad on the map.

By owning this map, I can make changes to it if the crowd so desires, so if there's a feature you'd like to see, let us know!

Now to other projects. I am working on two new maps to share with you all in the coming months, each of which will be hosted on this site: Shipwrecks and Abandoned Cemeteries. Both of these datasets include thousands of features, and wouldn't be possible to map on Google My Maps in their entirety.

Here's a preview of the Great Lakes shipwrecks, which is only about 50% complete at this point. The final map will look quite similar to the one below:

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes (in Progress) and coming soon to a historical mapping website near you!

I have also begun moving data on Abandoned Cemeteries from the Ghost Towns & Abandoned Places Map, since that data is quickly taking over the ghost towns map. However, I only have about 300 cemeteries on it, when the actual number of abandoned cemeteries is probably north of 100,000 across the world. Thus, the Abandoned Cemetery map is going to be truly crowdsourced, with the data starting from the USGS Place Names Index, which has over 150000 cemeteries across the United States, and I would like data for the whole world. 

The problem with the data is that it does not differentiate between an active cemetery and an abandoned one, so the map is initially going to feature all cemeteries, but with your help, we are going to remove active cemeteries from the map, and focus only on abandoned cemeteries, which constitute over 50% or more of the total number of cemeteries across the US, and I would imagine much of the world as well.

This is a map of the cemeteries just within the State of Arkansas, so I'm not going to be able to parse through this much data on my own!

Thank you as always for your continued support, and I look forward to adding these maps to our website as soon as they are ready for consumption! I would hope to have at least one done by the end of the year, but we will see how that goes. The most important thing is to get the abandoned railroad map perfect first before adding anything else, and I'm hoping to have that completed in the next few weeks at most.

Thanks as always for reading!


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