Open Historical Map/Projects/Railways

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This project covers an effort to recreate railroads and railways throughout history.

Historic maps

- Old original settlers maps - Sanborn maps - LoC, etc. - Baist maps - Time Tables - Plot Maps - Track Charts - operations maps - TOPO


See Tagging from OpenRailwayMap/Tagging


The mappers for this project include: Natfoot

Starting Out

Use a number of sources to pique an interest in a particular line. Usually starting out by looking at TOPO for basic alignment of a railroad. It is not guaranteed this is exact but is a good starting point for the lines.  Access aerial imagery or if available in your area, USGS 3DEP Elevation Data to identify exact alignment, embankments and cuttings. Then use Wikipedia and other local historic sources to provide dates. Follow up by adding detail from historic photos, Plot Maps, Track Charts, Timetables and operational diagrams.  

How to Map

When mapping railroads add the railroad structure as railway=rail and then add the date that it was laid in sections of the line. If you know the details of the railroad as in days of the railroad add that in all small sections if you know it as year list a section to the year of it's completion. If the railroad line is pulled up place the end_date as such. Just like in OSM if the corridor persist after rail is pulled list railway=abandoned to the new line, road, or trail.

When mapping ownership, operator and name changes add the data as a relation. This will allow date information to be added to the line many times over.


Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive

Great Northern and Northern Pacific Joint Archive

Northern Pacific Railroad Historical Association research

Other PNWRRA Links

Multi Modal Ways