Are Railroad Atlas' worth the money?

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  • Member since
    August 2019
  • From: Lebanon Co., Pennsylvania
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Are Railroad Atlas' worth the money?
Posted by steve-in-kville on Thursday, September 12, 2019 11:36 AM

The one I'm looking at is $35. I only really need maybe three counties (in my state) worth of maps. Is there another source? I found plenty of older maps online, but nothing recent that would have mile markers and the sidings.

Regards - Steve

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:11 PM

If you have a reasonably large screen, and access to reasonable printing, see how far you get with

https://www.openrailwaymap.org/

before you need things that are only in one of the proprietary printed volumes.  (That community likely is a lot quicker both in finding and correcting errors and in adding new resources or functionality...)

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:11 PM

Kind of an "up-to-you"  Steve.  I've got a railroad atlas for the Northeast that ran me $35, but I thought it was worth it, just for research purposes and general information.

However, if you only need information for three counties in your state let me suggest the road map books put out by ADC.  They're quite complete and will show rail lines in addition to the roads in your area, at least the ones I have do.

Barnes and Noble bookstores carry them, and I think  you can order them on line.

https://www.kappamapgroup.com  

Average price is around $17.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, September 12, 2019 5:24 PM

A rather inconsistent source of railroad data is the older topographic maps on historicaerials.com.  

Sometimes there are no maps at all, sometimes they go back to the early 20th century.  

They won't have mileposts or railroad unique landmarks, but they do usually show ownership of the line (good for working out a line's history), and may show certain location names that may not appear on conventional maps.

There are generally aerial images for a number of different years, too.  The resolution isn't always that good, but you can still pick things out.

Another tool in the toolbox.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, September 12, 2019 8:04 PM

For mile markers and other info try:

https://fragis.fra.dot.gov/gisfrasafety/

 

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Posted by Ajsik on Thursday, September 12, 2019 8:37 PM

Also, check online to see if your state DOT publishes its official railroad map. Some even offer free printed copies.

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Posted by Ajsik on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 4:28 PM

Duplicate

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Posted by Ajsik on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 4:29 PM

MidlandMike

For mile markers and other info try:

https://fragis.fra.dot.gov/gisfrasafety/

 

 

 

Wow, thanks!  As someone who looks at RR maps as giant puzzles, this is like finding the Rosetta Stone.

Of course, I'll also probably curse you when this starts keeping me up past my normal bedtime ('No really - I'll logoff after I finish exploring the KCS interchange points...').

Looks like my caffiene intake is going to be on the rise...

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 4:35 PM

Be advised that the FRA and STB GIS sites are far from complete or accurate. Like any other GIS, the product is only as good as the input. (one of those "trust, but verify" things, garbage in - garbage out)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 6:56 AM

MC's point is well-taken.  I can remember Chicago street maps prepared for the various oil companies by Rand McNally or Gousha that showed streets that may have been platted but did not actually exist.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:07 AM

I remember hearing once that all maps have minor mistakes.  This is do the publisher can tell if someone else is copying their work.  

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:00 AM

Yes, intentionally putting errors on maps is a way to catch unlawful copying. I beleve that is why one SPV map has "Former coarse of river" on it.

Johnny

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Posted by Ajsik on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 2:17 PM

mudchicken

Be advised that the FRA and STB GIS sites are far from complete or accurate. Like any other GIS, the product is only as good as the input. (one of those "trust, but verify" things, garbage in - garbage out)

 

 

Thanks for the words of caution.  I'll treat the info at these sites in a manner similar to Wikipedia: Generally good for an overview, but verification advised for any important details.

As for the accuracy of printed maps, last year I grabbed a Chicago road map specifically because it included rail lines.  Then I noticed the labels on the routes: 'B&O, 'PRR', and others of similar vintage.

It was from a 'major' mapping company with a copyright of 2013, and included a disclaimer (paraphrasing): 'to the best of the publisher's knowledge, information was correct at the time of printing'.  I realize that some corporate names live on past mergers, but I'm pretty sure it included a bunch which have been defunct for many, many years.

It was clearance priced at $0.35, so I didn't examine closely it before purchase.  Although it doesn't fulfill my intended purpose of having a current reference when I travel to/through the area, it does give an interesting historical perspective.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 2:40 PM

For another source of information, I suggest joining the ATCS Monitor group on Yahoo Groups. You must have a free Yahoo account and then apply for group membership, just note your specific interests in railfanning.

The ATCS Monitor program (requires Windows) can be loaded with layout 'kits' for many RR subdivisions. Even if a specific kit is 'stale', the content such as control points doesn't change very often.

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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