Showing posts from July, 2024

The Rise and Fall of the Pacific Electric Railway: Lessons for Modern Transit

In the early 20th century, the Pacific Electric Railway was the pride of Southern California, boasting over 1,000 miles of track and connecting Los Angeles with surrounding cities. Known as the "World's Greatest Electric Railway System," the system provided a comprehensive transit network that was unmatched globally. This system, established in 1901 by Henry E. Huntington, transformed Los Angeles into a hub of connectivity and efficiency. 1926 Map of the Pacific Electric Railway - Pacific Electric Historical Society Today,  Los Angeles ' Metro system is a shall of the PE's peak nearly 100 years ago, where one could reach nearly anywhere in LA and many places in the Inland Empire. The system was incredibly intricate, having both dedicated electric right of way but also using trackage of its owner, the Southern Pacific Railway. This complexity means that even today, we do not have a full picture of the extent of the Pacific Electric on our  Abandoned Railroad Map .

The Indiana Division or Coal Branch of the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad

One of the reasons for mapping abandoned rail lines is for my own reference: and after doing this for over 8 years now, it's extremely interesting to go back towards some of my earlier work that I've completely forgotten about and try to figure out how I was able to find some of these lines.  Such is the case of the Fountain County Branch of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railway, in which the last 15 miles of track were abandoned all the way in 1879. It was referred to as both the Fountain County Branch as well as the Indiana Division, or the Coal Branch in the  preliminary history of the C&E , which can get confusing. However the Coal Branch name comes from the predecessor road of the C&EI, the Chicago Danville & Vincennes , who opened the line in 1873. The C&EI itself would not exist until 1877. The portion of the Fountain County Branch in its eponymous county. (1876 Map, Indiana Historical Society) The Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railway (C&EI) w

Wildlife Crossings over Roads: Designing Transportation With Nature

As urban development continues to expand, the natural habitats of wildlife are increasingly fragmented by roads and highways. This is not a new phenomena, but there are innovative ways that planners and traffic engineers are working to mitigate these harms, which we should note, not only endanger animals but also poses significant risks to drivers. Wildlife crossings, such as bridges and tunnels designed specifically for animals, offer a promising solution to these challenges. The Wyoming Department of Transportation partnered with the state wildlife agency and nonprofit groups to create a series of wildlife crossings, a concept lauded by environmentalists and transportation officials alike. (Image via Patch ) Simply put, wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to safely cross over or under roadways. These can take the form of overpasses, underpasses, tunnels, and viaducts , often covered with vegetation to blend into the natural landscape. The idea is to provide a safe pa

Quebec's Abandoned Wooden Railways (by Alain Bernier)

Guest blogger Alain Bernier returns to discuss an unusual part of railway history, both in Quebec and across the United States and Canada, the early adoption of using wood as opposed to steel and iron rails to save on costs for early railway lines.  NOTE : This blog was originally sent to me for publication in February, but due to email mishaps, it got lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, I thank Alain for his hard work, research, and especially patience in contributing to this blog! Abandoned colonization wooden railroads in the province of Quebec   THE HULBERT WOODEN RAIL SYSTEM When speaking of wooden rails here, we are not referring to the wooden rails laid with strap iron that were commonly used in the early days of the railroads. We are referring to railroads that were built using rails entirely made of wood with no iron whatsoever and without using any iron spikes or other metal fasteners.  By some accounts, this system of wooden railways, developed in Norway and Sweden, was