Abandoned RailRoad - How far can I go?

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dredman, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    It is encouraging to know I am not alone in my odd interests (more on that in a moment) and I think it is cool as hell that anyone can ride 270 miles on a railbed? I have found a few beds that you can access for a <10 miles, and yet they are still amazing. Years ago, a few even had trestles on them and they wound thru such amazing scenery that has not been seen by a man in decades. My fascination with trains is recent, but my love for history is an old affliction. Just now rediscovering an outlet for my obsessions, and combining them makes it even more satisfying.

    Now more about the first statement - I was feeling guilty about riding to all these cool places alone, after a few friends started asking to ride along..... then MAT just sorta happened last week. Moto-Archeology Team (MAT) combines those two interests - motos & history (lost, abandoned, forgotten etc.) Does not require knobby tires or dirt bikes or skillz (but sometimes they help) So anyone interested in taking a peak is welcome to join - only rules: talk about riding motos to something historically interesting, preferably lost or abandoned (hence - archeology) Most everyone that has joined so far is living in Alabama, but there is no need to limit this to the South or even the USA? Open invite to all readers/riders https://www.facebook.com/groups/motoarchteam/
    I would like to see what others are interested in and certainly any 50+ mile railbeds that are accessible?
    #41
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  2. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    I know of so many abandoned railroad beds that are accessible but only to Non-motorized travel.
    They are all over the country--------I've ridden many of them on my bicycle.
    I should have said--------the Katy trail I rode--------is non motorized.
    Mark
    #42
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  3. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

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    Loving this exploration....
    RR Pic.JPG
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  4. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    Funny that the search for tunnel #4 came up short in the first video of the series, after a friend pointed out the blip on the LIDAR map - the VERY SAME map I gave him to do his research. My only explanation is that I discovered the tool around the same time I started this search? Anyway, I did get close to the tunnel, enough to get an eyeball on it. Maybe I can get in there closer with the bike, or at least walk in in the future?

    #44
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  5. caver

    caver Missouri The Cave State

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    I've explored many an old abandoned RR bed and often looking for the tunnels. I would suggest getting a dedicated GPS. I have a handheld (76something) as a backup but mainly just use my Montana on the bike. I do have the Garmin Topo maps but do my research before a trip. A handy tool is a program called ExpertGPS where I can download scanned paper maps. Those have the good stuff. Modern topo maps have been digitized and all the scary stuff removed or I say sanitized for your protection. The three tunnels are shown on a 1973 1:24000 scale map along with the abandoned grade. I've had one in Idaho kick my ass as i think it has caved in but you'd never know it. The other side would have been even more difficult. I was convinced I had a bad waypoint until i hiked across this mountain stream on large ankle breaking boulders getting my feet wet in foot deep fast flowing water. But once on the opposite side I found the unmistakable remnant of a rail bed. Some day I'll go back but it was a serious scramble down a hill and kicked my overweight self on the way back up.
    #45
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  6. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    So I have a GPS but I have almost completely stopped using it. Why? Many reasons, but mostly because the makers decided to screw the customers (like Apple) and I discovered other tools for my phone. I too do research before my trip, and I am learning to use my tools in new ways. How do you connect the scanned paper to the GPS accurately? I am curious about that as I use a lot of old maps too.

    I am planning to do a tutorial on my tools & how I use them to find what I am looking for. I think it will help not only the folks on the A-Team, but also anyone else like us get started exploring. Always good to know what ELSE is out there? Maybe we can do a 'shootout' or something like that to see where the flaws/advantages are? I would consider going back to factory GPS if there are clear advantages, but my guess is they have lost already, and only a few people are hanging onto old tech for nostalgia, and the "feel & texture of a paper book"? I could be wrong?

    ateamsmall.png
    #46
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  7. caver

    caver Missouri The Cave State

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    I can actually put a paper version of a topo on my Montana. I hardly ever do that as I tend to forget how to do it and then have to research or trial and error. It's done in ExpertGPS. What I do is mainly mark waypoints that will help me find what I'm looking for. Many places I'm at exploring do not get a cell signal. Garmin fleeces people with their maps. I've had the topo stuff for probably 20+ years so it's not tied to any GPS or laptop if I buy a new one. I still use Mapsource because Base Camp I never could figure out.
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  8. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    Awww..... you almost had me with that import ability? I figured it would be pretty labor intensive. With my current tools I have never needed to purchase a map. I used GPS concurrently while transitioning to my phone/tablet, to navigate OUT with the tracks. I used it before I was introduced to the latest apps. I used it because, like you said, Internet SUX in canyons. BUT, then I discovered offline(cached) maps. I can download THOUSANDS of square miles of TOPO, Satellite, USFS, Marine, Aviation and dozens of other sources......for free. I can send and receive tracks when I do have Internet, without a stupid laptop and additional software to confuse me. I am not an expert navigator, mainly because I have no interest, but most importantly because I don't have to be, when using my phone/tablet. Sux for Garmin - they had it all before they got greedy and chose to fuck the customer.
    #48
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  9. caver

    caver Missouri The Cave State

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    Here's a version that I split with G Earth. the white gap is because the left side is on another topo map.

    Attached Files:

    • RR.jpg
      RR.jpg
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  10. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    So we finally made it down to tunnel #3 on Sunday. We had intended to make it all the way to #2, and maybe even the backside of #1 (flooded) but since we lost half the team on the way we decided to make a short trip out it - take some pics and head back. Pretty amazing scenery in addition to the setting & history.
    A brutal crash and some really sticky Alabama clay made the trip "interesting".

    #50
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  11. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    So I decided to fin another way in from the north this time. Maybe I should have stayed home? Still turned out to be a good day despite the crash.

    #51
  12. 10K

    10K Trail Runner

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    Bump.
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  13. sixspeed

    sixspeed Put on the WHOLE armor

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    Someone on here has some pix of riding the Milwaukee Road Pacific extension in Montana. I hope someday to get there and do the entire 440 miles of the former Rocky Mountain Division from Harlowton to Avery ID.

    Great to see someone else with an interest in motos and industrial archaeology.
    #53
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  14. dredman

    dredman Dirty Moto-Tourist

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    Montana railbed is on my list for the trip I am currently on
    #54
  15. TownPump

    TownPump Long timer

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    Interesting report!

    The word "abandoned" when it comes to railroad rights of way is actually a complex legal issue involving a lot of factors. The bottom line being somebody owns the land, or has rights to it, even if there are no longer any active rails. The railroad may have had fee title or just an easement. Even if fee title different factors could come into consideration if the RR acquired it by act of government, or by eminent domain, or by a voluntary grant, or by purchase.

    Even if grown over, the government and the Surface Transportation Board may still hold an interest in addition to the railroad. A RR cannot abandon any part of an interestate RR until it has obtained a certificate from the STB permitting the abandonment. There is also a railbanking policy under the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act that allows the STB to withhold approval and order it railbanked to preserve the public or national interest in having a right of way for future railroad use. Railbanked rights of way can get interim trail use certificates to create recreational and hiking trails on railbanked rights of way.

    But for truly abandoned rights of way from both the railroads perspective and the STB's perspective (if appropriate), it can vary by state but often ownership of it reverts back to where it came from. It can be challenging to determine that ownership in many situations.

    Here's a cool resource from the STB showing the rail network and abandoned and railbanked lines:

    https://stb.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html

    Not a lot of abandoned (per the STB's process) or railbanked lines in Alabama, just a handful.
    #55
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