[Talk-us] place=locality on rail junction

OSM Volunteer stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Fri Aug 17 11:11:16 UTC 2018

On Aug 17, 2018, at 2:59 AM, talk-us-request at openstreetmap.org wrote:
When I come upon these, what's The Right Thing?  'railway=junction ref="CPF 499"' instead?

Hi Kevin:  "Railroad place names" in the USA have a lore all their own.  Sometimes and even often in remote/rural areas, simple junctions, switches or sidings which were named by the railroads "turned into" what we (in OSM and other contexts) might call a "locality" or even serve as the de facto location of a hamlet or village, especially as a station serving freight or passengers also "grew up" there.  A surprising number of these (thousands, at least) survive presently.  Railroads heavily influenced how the USA became what we are today (landuse patterns, industrial zones...).

Though you didn't specify exact nodes so their "true railway function" can be determined, I did an Overpass Turbo query in your area and found some.  Many are switches, some are junctions.  While https://wiki.osm.org/wiki/OpenRailwayMap/Tagging can be daunting documentation and could prove helpful, https://wiki.osm.org/wiki/Tag:railway=switch is much more succinct.  Simply assure these are at a point where two rail lines diverge and modify tags to be railway=switch and ref=CPF 499 (or whatever).  However, they may also be junctions instead of switches:  see https://wiki.osm.org/wiki/Tag:railway=junction (quite brief) and note that a switch diverges two lines whereas a junction might not.

So, if it's a switch, name becomes ref and place=locality becomes railway=switch, but only if you are fairly certain it is where two rail lines diverge.  If you are not sure it is a railway=switch, it might be a junction (e.g. Cherry Valley Junction).  Tags there should be railway=junction + name=Cherry Valley Junction (not ref=*).

More difficult still is when the node is NOT part of the rail infrastructure (a node actually on the railway=rail, maybe it's simply a node nearby a rail line) as then place=locality truly might be an accurate tag.

BTW, I've been cleaning up NE2 messes (as I find them) since about 2011 (even after he would rudely swear at me in my polite emails to him); good riddance to NE2.  His horrific sense of bicycle routing turned into me and others first tearing out our hair in frustration, then we began our USBRS WikiProject.  So:  lemons?  Lemonade!

Thank you for asking the list.


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