[Tagging] [OSM-talk] Should we map things that do not exist?

Mateusz Konieczny matkoniecz at tutanota.com
Sat Jan 2 14:07:54 UTC 2021

Dec 31, 2020, 20:25 by kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com:

> On Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 1:34 PM stevea <> steveaOSM at softworkers.com> > wrote:
>> Thank you, although I think you are agreeing with Volker, the OP, rather than me, who replied.  (Volker and I agree).  To be clear, there are no "replacements" (existing or proposed) for railway=abandoned (or similar values), there are simply the tags we have already defined, documented and data so tagged which are already in the map.  They belong, they should stay, they can and should continue to be entered where they exist (as a right-of-way, especially when proposed to be included in a "rail-trail").
> I've certainly hiked on demolished logging railways (and other abandoned rights-of-way) where the roads were closed, the rails lifted, and so on prior to the First World War.  A lot of people would say that 'no traces remain', but to an experienced bushwhacker, the traces of rail ballast in the soil, the signs of deteriorated embankments, cuttings and ditches, and so on all are clear signposts. Sometimes the ground displays a distinct corduroy texture where the sleepers have long since crumbled to rot and dust, but the mounded ballast between them supports the soil. There may be spilt coal or clinker, or other bits of rubbish about. (One of them has rather a lot of broken whiskey bottles!) I'd not dignify the things with 'abandoned' - they've deteriorated further than that, and an effort was made to demolish them. I'd not call them 'footway', either, since it's not prudent to hike them without sound orienteering skills. The ways are lost in spots owing to mudslides, washouts, overgrowth and the like. The published maps of the area usually bear warnings like "unmarked trails and abandoned roads in this area may be obscure and difficult to follow, even for experienced hikers."
> They still provide graded routes that a hiker can follow part of the way to some off-trail destinations. But they're nothing more nor less than demolished railways. Nothing new has been put in their place, but the railways are long gone. Their traces are there for eyes to see that can.
Previous discussions changed my mind on such cases and I am OK with mapping this -
though we really should have some tagging to describe what kind of traces remained.

Some time ago I retagged removed railway into


rather than removing it like I would do in 2019
( https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/835548894 ).

Adding description also would be a good idea.

But if former forest/village/railway is replaced by 60m deep pit of surface mine
then it is totally and utterly gone and not mappable anymore in OSM
(maybe name is mappable if still used locally).

This is quite important to me as my area has quite long history and features that
are nowadays gone. Idea of mapping everything that existed in past and is now demolished
scares me. I want to make sure that making say 3D building tagging of building that is
utterly demolished or mapping railway that is utterly and completely gone
(with not even single sleeper, rail, railway sign, railway ballast, bridge, tunnel,
embankment, debris or anything else still visible) is not considered as mappable.
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