New England State Rail Maps

Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by shadyjay » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:02 pm

The relatively-new New England 511 web site apparently uses a map interface that shows many rail lines in New Hampshire that were abandoned decades ago, yet appear on the map as being still existant. Go to" onclick=";return false; and check out Keene, for example. Or go to Fabyans and see a rail line connecting the Cog Railway to the outside world.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by NHV 669 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:11 am

shadyjay wrote:Or go to Fabyans and see a rail line connecting the Cog Railway to the outside world.
via the BC&M to Wing Rd. in Bethlehem, abandoned 1938.

NHVT 669 sits at the south end of the "Pompy" line in White River Jct., VT on 4/29/1993. Photo by Richard Roberg.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:02 am

Those used to appear on the official State of NH rail map until they cleaned it up to just the state-owned railbanks last year. It's GIS noise on the map from folding in old topos into the data layers. The land ownership on the branch to the Cog Railway, for instance, was long ago absorbed by the widened access road even though there are some rail structures still extant on the side of the road recycled for sidewalks and culverts. So while the access road makes the grading very easily traceable, there are no extant property lines today that allow it to be legally classified on a DOT map as an intact ROW.

Since a lot of online maps--from Google to the official state DOT's--share the same public data you can sometimes get these 'phantom' rail lines showing up that haven't existed since the Depression and have no extant property claims for continuing to show the ROW on a modern map. Google has done a good job over the last couple years scrubbing its data layers clean of legacy crud, but YMMV depending on what data dump anyone else has sourced (or if they're still using a 'polluted' Google data layer from before the mass cleanup). The MassDOT rail map takes that to an extreme. It's both a one-stop treasure trove of GIS traces of every ROW dating to the mid- 19th century and an unnavigable mess that's about as accurate as a carnival hall of mirrors because they just tossed every era's topos into a blender, puked it out onto one PDF, and called it an "official" rail ROW map. It's got so many phantom, mis-classified, and formerly relocated ROW's on it from old topos that it's basically useless for tracking anything that isn't bona-fide active or under official state landbank. Many of the gradings depicted don't even physically exist anymore because of earth-moving from subsequent construction, but the ROW's still appear on the "official" map regardless.

It's a real problem in the world of GIS systems on how to scrub all this needle-in-haystack spurious data that affects the accuracy of overall navigation...without investing in huge quantities of human work hours to go comb through the layers and edit out the 'phantom' objects. One of the reasons why you've got crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap (in its infancy) OpenRailwayMap. Those croudsources popped up as a means of distributing that heavy-lifting human cleanup work on a massive scale and slowly stamp out the inaccurate data layers (old pre-cleanup Google Maps & the like) that keep gettting recycled anew with the same errors and 'phantoms'.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by ceo » Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:43 pm

I've actually been working on a cleanup of the MassGIS railway map, with the aim of making it a useful Google Maps layer. The data set is a serious mess, and I'm far from a GIS expert (and I have a lot of other projects), so don't hold your breath waiting for it to be done. :-) Open Railway Map has good MA coverage, but I actually do want to include all of the abandoned lines (they have most, but not all) and provide more details: dates built and abandoned, that kind of thing, which I don't think ORM supports.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by BostonUrbEx » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:45 pm

I've actually been single handedly cleaning up OpenRailwayMap for about a month, which was a complete mess, and lacked any speeds at all. Every speed in Massachusetts (except the NEC, which was bizarrely added in KPH only) was added by me. I recently finished reclassifying every MBTA ROW by its proper mainline/branchline designation. Right now the focus is on putting in line MAS and then combing over with permanent speed restrictions as well as fixing missing segments of line. I've been doing spot cleanups of missing segments of abandoned ROW and correcting alignments. Reservoir Yard was completely nonexistent until yesterday (ORM hasn't updated today from OSM, yet).

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by Train60 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:15 pm

Wow! Thank you for working on that. I was wondering when someone was going to start adding speed details to this amazingly useful site.
Last edited by MEC407 on Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: unnecessary quoting

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by ANRP2 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:30 am


Thank you. Please keep us informed as you progress on this project.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by jfloehr » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:22 pm

The Open Railway Map site is a terrific resource. Perhaps the information is not 100% accurate at every location. But it is amazing how much detail slowly, but magically appears as you zoom in to your desired geographic area. This is my goto map site for getting acclimated with abandoned New England rail lines, one of my main interests - and not always easy to accomplish (with just a few clicks) using the other map links. Very well done!

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by shepaug » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:01 pm

Anybody know a site for older than 2019 satellite images ? I had some site bookmarked but lost it somewhere.

Satellite images extremely useful for looking at railroad row's and what I found useful was more information on the businesses along the row. Present they mix maps/satellite, etc. and show businesses. If it were older than the present that info was good.

Also FREE is important. (nobody wants to pay for every look at a map ?)

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by b&m 1566 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:58 pm

The first two that come to mind are and Google Earth Pro.

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Re: New England State Rail Maps

Post by The EGE » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:53 pm

Yep, both great options. Google Earth (the free version is just fine) has a pretty good selection from the 1990s till present); Historic Aerials has topos (mostly 1890s-1980s) and aerials (mostly 1930s-present, but Google's are higher quality post-1990).

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