• Historical Railroad Map

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by YamaOfParadise
I suppose I've gotten far enough along in this project to be able to start showing people. With the help of google's map engine, and originally the Valuation Maps here, I have been fleshing out a map of current and abandoned ROW's. I originally started to just do it for the NYNH&H (as I am a CT native), to be able to see where abandoned ROW's once were, as I have a particular interest in abandonment in general. It was surprisingly entertaining: and after I effectively filled out the NYNH&H on the map, I moved on to doing the B&M and beyond. Do leave feedback, as I have inevitably already screwed something up, be it in the actual line, or by name. Just keep it polite, of course. The map is currently viewable to anyone with the link, but editable only by me. I might consider allowing multiple editors in the future, but I would screen that at a person-by-person level.

Something of note to mention, though: mapengine only gives you three layers for free, and as a currently unemployed high-school senior and despite investing a lot of time into this, I won't be shelling out the $5/month required to get up to 10 layers. So there is going to be some stacking of railroads up on layers to be able to continue adding railroads. It should be evident that this would have to happen eventually, as there are quite obviously a lot of individual railroads in the time period I'm documenting this from.

The original builders of the ROW will be listed as the description, to the best of my ability; I have had to make some sacrifices to this convention, as in some cases it would have taken a significant amount of time to find the railroad name for a very short section of track. Differing railroads on the same tab will be noted textually noted in parenthesis, which may or may not also include a division name. On the physical map, differing railroads will be noted by different color schemes (and potentially later line thickness). ROW's that are currently existing, and used to some extent, will be in a black or grey variant. Abandoned ROW's will be in a red or red variant.

Historical Railroad Map

Railroad Data
New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad. Circa 1916. Located on Layer 1. Based on valuation maps (mile-by-mile). Effectively complete (there's some small areas where valuation maps were missing, or I can't find the ROW).
New York Central Railroad. Circa 1916. Located on Layer 3. Based on valuation maps (overview). In progress (currently working on).
Boston & Maine Railroad. Circa 1930. Located on Layer 2. Based on 1930 B&M system map, and Pan Am Railways system map. In progress (not currently being worked on).
Central Vermont Railway. Circa (unknown). Located on Layer 2. Based on various late 1800s CVRW system maps, and other valuation maps and system maps. In progress (not currently being worked on).
Central New England Railway. Circa (unknown). Located on Layer 1. Currently not based on anything. Effectively unstarted.
Pennsylvania Railroad. Circa (1916). Located on Layer 3. Currently not based on anything. Not started.
Note: Long Island Railroad is included separately on Layer 3 despite being part of PRR circa 1916.
Future Additions
New York, Ontario, and Western Railway
Delaware and Hudson Railway
Erie Railroad
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Central Railroad of New Jersey
  by The EGE
Where in the NYNH&H are you unable to find the ROW? I may be able to help.
  by Kilgore Trout
Very interesting! This is a subject I too have been interested in for a while. I mapped out almost the entire CNE and NY&NE in New York a while ago - see this thread. I elected to do it as a Google Earth map (KMZ) which allows for significant flexibility, and I've been working on mapping out the other NH stuff in New York (main line, NYW&B, Harlem River, NYCR) and was planning on posting it soon. I'm not familiar with the east end though so I'm probably just going to focus on making the best NY map I can.

May I ask where you found the NYC and PRR maps?

Some tips I found handy in my project:

- Look at topographic maps. Sometimes they will denote an old railroad grade - for example, I was able to clearly follow the Rhinecliff branch of the CNE by following a purple line marked "old railroad grade" on a map produced ~20 years after it was torn up. Even if it isn't explicitly marked, you can often find culverts and excavations. Somewhere there is a set of both historical and modern topo maps available for Google Earth which can be useful for exploring.
- ...however, old topographic maps aren't as accurate as modern ones. You may find that a railroad drawn as a gentle curve on a circa 1900 map is actually much curvier, and had it followed the originally-marked route it would have gone over a mountain at an impossible grade according to a new map. You'll need to work on comparing old and new if you use topos, but putting both together can be very helpful.
- Aerial imagery in Bing (angled), Google Earth (current and historical), and on Historic Aerials can be very helpful as well. You may need to take the average of several since they won't all line up perfectly with each other - pick some good landmarks like grade crossings, bodies of water, bridges, etc as your reference points. Keep in mind that rights-of-way can be visible for decades after the tracks have been torn up, if the land hasn't been reclaimed. Sometimes structures are never removed with the tracks (think things like bridge piers) (I found one CNE bridge over a small stream by comparing ~10 different aerial shots and working out where the piers were in each)
- If you can find tax or property maps, those can be incredibly helpful as well for working out boundaries, curves, etc.
- Check timetables to get a sanity check - if you know a particular station or junction is at milepost 93.6 and the map you are working on shows the same (either as miles or chains) you're on the right track.