Tactical Advantage: I don’t have to know everything, just more than you.

Mapping the Ghostly Traces of Abandoned Railroads – An interactive, crowdsourced atlas plots vanished transit routes by Jessica Leigh Hester.

From the post:

In the 1830s, a rail line linked Elkton, Maryland, with New Castle, Delaware, shortening the time it took to shuttle people and goods between the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay. Today you’d never know it had been there. A photograph snapped years after the line had been abandoned captures a stone culvert halfway to collapse into the creek it spanned. Another image, captured even later, shows a relict trail that looks more like a footpath than a railroad right-of-way. The compacted dirt seems wide enough to accommodate no more than two pairs of shoes at a time.

The scar of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad barely whispers of the railcars that once barreled through. That’s what earned it a place on Andrew Grigg’s map.

For the past two years, Grigg, a transit enthusiast, has been building an interactive atlas of abandoned railroads. Using Google Maps, he lays the ghostly silhouettes of the lines over modern aerial imagery. His recreation of the 16-mile New Castle and Frenchtown Line crosses state lines and modern highways, marches through suburban housing developments, and passes near a cineplex, a Walmart, and a paintball field.
… (emphasis in original)

Great example of a project capturing travel paths that may be omitted from modern maps. Being omitted from a map doesn’t impact the potential use of an abandoned railway as an alternative to other routes.

Be sure to check ahead of time but digital navigation systems may have omitted discontinued railroads.

The same advantage obtains if you know which underpasses flood after a heavy rain, which streets are impassable, when trains are passing over certain crossings, all manner of information that isn’t captured by standard digital navigation systems.

What information can you add to a map that isn’t known to or thought to be important by others?

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