[Tagging] unfinished railway of historic importance

Bill Ricker bill.n1vux at gmail.com
Sat Feb 25 16:48:26 GMT 2012

I agree with Russ here. I have more experience with abandoned RR, as
do most of us, since that 's what happened in the 20th C. ( Saddest
task in my professional life was snipping newly abandoned ways out of
my DOT GIS dataset in the 1980s.) But there are many more unfinished
RR's than we recall. Like the recent telecom boom-bust-merger cycle,
low cost RR were built by cherry picking bankrupt rivals' expensive
builds. The duplicate ways were sometimes abandoned, having been
finished and used, but often the bankrupts had many miles of
unfinished rights-of-way works-in-progress (debt without income).

>  > because there will never be more than a couple of uses in the
>  > database.
> See http://russnelson.com/unfinished-railroads.html -- there are 30 of
> them in New York State alone....
> The Wikipedia article on Panic of 1873 says that 89 railroads went
> bankrupt. Since one of the causes of the Panic of 1873 was people
> building too many railroads, chances are very good that a good number
> of them were in the process of being built. Only three of my 30 died
> because of the panic, which says that there are a LOT more unfinished
> railroads out there.
> It deserves its own tag. Not that I expect renderers to render it
> differently, but it would be nice if they did, and just having a note,
> with variable prose makes it unreasonable to expect them to do it.

A standard separate tag =unfinished would actually help prospective
users of the =abandonned tag. Unfinished serves as stern warning that
conditions will change mile by mile somewhere on the line, that the
roadbed may never have been fully perfected with ties and ballast, and
may in spots not even have been cut or filled to grade. The recently
abandoned ways need relatively little work to make a walking/bike
trail compared to a way whose grading wasn't even completed in 1873,
and has been overgrown for 130 years. (Not that the odd 30 year tree
on a 20thC abandoned way will be easy to remove, but there will be
fewer per mile where ballast protected the way for a while.)

@n1vux bill.n1vux at gmail.com

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