[Talk-us] Ghost Towns

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Tue Nov 18 17:41:43 UTC 2014

Martin Koppenhoefer writes:
>The latter example shouldn't probably be mapped in OSM, as there is 
>literally nothing left now, while the former is still there, it is 
>simply degraded by the water and not visible most of the time due to 
>the lake.

Another like your latter example, here in Silicon Valley.  Lexington 
reservoir is where a usually submerged ghost town (one of several of 
these former small communities around this mountainous area) 
re-appears during prolonged droughts.  In the real world, smeary 
foundations are vague when and as this happens.  In OSM, we tag a 
node with place=locality and historic=yes in the middle of a moderate 
sized dammed body of water.  Lightly tagged and might I assert 
correct and effective for "what it is" (not much).  Yet it is (in my 
local though shared opinion) right where we mean when we use the name 
"Lexington" to talk about a place, so that is what its name= tag is. 

We have former communities (a synonym for ghost town? maybe here but 
not there, maybe that or not this...) like small ones wiped out by 
landslides in the 1960s and 1980s.  I "listen local" (others do this, 
too) and if others know it or use it in conversation (like it might 
be included in directions, "you'll go through Davenport to get 
there") I think it should be in the map.  The place=locality tag does 
an adequate job of representing this.  (When I use the name in 
conversation, it means "here.")  Though if it means a populated 
place, I'll start up the isolated_dwelling, hamlet, village, town... 
chain.  (Can we declare most of those are in?  Another topic.)

In the USA we have a lot of "rail names" which are partly/largely 
historic.  Maybe it is people who look at maps a bit more who know 
this or agree, but some of these (rail, ghost, 
dissolved-by-a-reservoir...) do stick around in conversation and are 
handy to describe "here."  Their names get used, they mean someplace.

Improvements welcome.  Sometimes two things are not like each other. 
YMMV.  We have free form tagging in OSM, which I like very much as it 
allows sharpening of syntax to occur.  Giving shape to what a set of 
tags means.  Such discussion (sharing) is good.


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