Railroad abandonment & disappearing small towns

7269 views
24 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • 42 posts
Posted by Fred Boyer on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 6:12 AM

Here in Indiana, North Judson had 4 railroads crossing.  700 people were employed by the various railroads to operate and maintain them.  Now, only the Hoosier Valley Museum operates out of there and all the jobs are gone.  Railroads have reduced their workforce drastically since the change from steam to diesel, mechanizing the maintenance workforce and going from signal tower operation to CTC and electronic control of traffic. 

TRAINS had an article that pointed out the rails are hauling twice the loads with a third of the employees.  Many small towns were built to serve the railroad and those working for the railroad are no longer there.  North Judson lost the tower crews, signal and right-of-way crews before the rails were removed.  Now it is basically a retirement community. 

Fred Boyer
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,120 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 1:38 PM

My observation is that small towns failed more because of improved highway systems and car then because of the loss of rail service.  The Interstate boom of the 50's & 60's doomed the economies of may small towns along their routes.  The overall improvement of state highway networks doomed many others.

Railroads did not have the effective power to rationalize their bloated trackage until after the passage of the Staggers Act in 1980 - and it took several years after the passage of Staggers for the carriers to formulate and implement their abandonment plans and those plans were based on sustainable traffic levels.  If a line did not possess the traffic level to sustain it's operation it was a candidate for abandonment or spinning it off to a Short Line operator that could make a buck with the Short Lines reduced cost structure.

If there is a sustainable level of traffic that will cover it's costs and return a profit - that traffic will be serviced.  In today's form of railroading that is not single car customers. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,728 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 1:07 PM

Another factor is the end of using coal for domestic heating. I recall the coal siding where I grew up but there were very few houses that took delivery in those odd dump trucks. The coal business shut down when everyone burned oil and not long after, the railroad went away.

  • Member since
    September 2008
  • 2 posts
Posted by Milwaukee Road Retiree on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 10:05 AM

locomutt: I see u r a nieghbor, I retired to Charlestown,In 5yrs ago after 38yrs (train service) on the Milw/Soo/CPRR. I grew up in a small town(Pleasantville,In- pop100 on Easter sunday) in the middle of coal country, it dried up after school consolidation closed and eventualy removed the school buildings  completely,left only  the gymnasium which is still in use today after almost 60 yrs.In Indiana one can almost attribute every towns demise to the loss of the school.

Milw Butch

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 1,451 posts
Posted by Victrola1 on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 8:14 AM

The internal combustion engine caused the change in agricultural areas.

Not only did it power automobiles, it replaced human labor on the farm. It started with water pumps, corn shellers and other single digit horsepower applications. Once the tractor took over, the decline accelerated. Visit an area where Amish still shun tractors. Notice the small size of the farms and large farm houses holding large families to work the land.

The light density rail network would have died with the highways. An over all decline in rural population density with agricultural mechanization reduced the need for small towns as much as the ability to travel farther with ease.

 

 

  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: US
  • 28 posts
Posted by mogul264 on Monday, January 2, 2012 7:27 PM

Sounds like small town heaven!

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Muncie, Indiana...Orig. from Pennsylvania
  • 13,456 posts
Posted by Modelcar on Monday, January 2, 2012 5:56 PM

LNER4472

There is an excellent two-volume pair of books that addresses this subject:  When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, by Joseph P. Schwieterman.  Vol. 1 (Eastern U.S.) was published in 2001, Vol. 2 (Western U.S.) in 2004.  Both volumes are/should be readily available at reasonable prices through your favorite book dealers, online retailers, and the like, and in paperback to boot.  The books don't spend a lot of time (or, frankly, as much time as they should for a relatively academic subject) on the overall issues of why rail lines were abandoned and how the abandonments impacted overall national economy.  Rather, the books give rather intensive case studies of a wide selection of various towns where rail service was abandoned.

 

Item: in volume one....in Acknowledgements...page Xii...Mr. Schwieterman was kind enough to list my name {Quentin Mong}, for a very small bit of info re:  Ligonier Valley RR., Ligonier Pa.  2001.

Quentin

  • Member since
    December 2006
  • 1,284 posts
Posted by diningcar on Monday, January 2, 2012 2:18 PM

LNER4472, AS A RESIDENT OF PRESCOTT FOR THE PREVIOUS TWENTY YEARS, AND AS ONE OF THE ENGINEERS INVOLVED IN THE BRANCH LINE RELOCATION IN 1961-62, I WISH TO CORRECT ONE MISTAKE IN YOUR PRESENTATION. THE RAIL MILES FROM WILLIAMS JCT TO PHOENIX IS 207 NOT 350.

ALSO, THERE ARE MANY CURRENT RESIDENTS OF PRESCOTT WHO ARE FORMER RESIDENTS OF STATES EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI BECAUSE IT IS ONE OF THE PREMIER RETIREMENT LOCATIONS IN THE ORIGINAL 48 STATES. THE CLIMATE IN PRESCOTT HAS ALL FOUR SEASONS, BUT EACH IN MODERATION. AFTER BEING SENT ELSEWHERE IN 1962 FOLLOWING THE LINE RELOCATION I LOOKED AT MANY LOCATIONS IN WHICH TO RETIRE AND ELECTED TO RETURN.

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: US
  • 165 posts
Posted by LNER4472 on Monday, January 2, 2012 1:03 PM

There is an excellent two-volume pair of books that addresses this subject:  When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, by Joseph P. Schwieterman.  Vol. 1 (Eastern U.S.) was published in 2001, Vol. 2 (Western U.S.) in 2004.  Both volumes are/should be readily available at reasonable prices through your favorite book dealers, online retailers, and the like, and in paperback to boot.  The books don't spend a lot of time (or, frankly, as much time as they should for a relatively academic subject) on the overall issues of why rail lines were abandoned and how the abandonments impacted overall national economy.  Rather, the books give rather intensive case studies of a wide selection of various towns where rail service was abandoned.

This pair of books does an excellent job of showing that there is no short and easy answer to the question you asked.  There are examples of both. The books have 64 and 58 town histories, respectively, with towns from a couple dozen or hundred souls to over 100,000 people (Honolulu, at 876,000, is the biggest examined, Promontory, Utah, at one resident park ranger, the smallest!); the average size is probably a couple thousand.

One interesting example:  Prescott, Arizona, once the territorial capital of Arizona and the commercial center of the copper industry in the region for years, midway between the AT&SF Transcon at Ash Fork and Phoenix..  Serving the city directly meant fighting a vicious mountain west of town to continue to/from Phoenix.  The Santa Fe undertook a major line relocation in the 1950s that reduced the grades and bypassed Prescott completely, relegating it to the end of a branch that was eventually abandoned.  Today, Prescott is still a commercial and residential center, but classic "suburban sprawl" has spread east and north of the city proper along the highways.  Prescott is still the biggest city in Arizona that no one east of the Mississippi has "heard of," and I suspect today that's because it's still far from the Interstates.  Now, the BNSF from Williams Junction and Ash Fork to Phoenix is, functionally, a 350-mile "branch line" off the Chicago-L.A. Transcon, with only two interchange points (the Arizona Central with a new cement plant being built at Drake, and the Arizona & California at Matthie).and two or three actual customers anywhere between Williams Junction and the Phoenix metropolitan area.  The copper traffic, a major instigator for the line's construction in the late 1800s, was mostly gone by the 1920s.

  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 6,468 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:32 PM

I would jump in and add that out here in Kansas one of the final hits that brings down a town is the loss by consolidation of the Communities Schools.  As a Community looses its population ad places to work go away. The reasons for kids to stay close to home and start a family after graduating become harder to justify.

This little community was until the 1960s, a real railroad crossroads. The first railroad was the DM&G (or A) RR which became the MoPac and ran East/West thru town.

  The AT&SF ran North/South thru town. as well as the Midland Valley RR ( a Muskogee Lines Co) was also North/South.   The local elevator was isolated by the loss of the MoPac in the 1960s, and AT&SF now BNSF bypasses to the west by a short distance ( 2 tracked Transcon) Midland Valley disappeared in the 1960s as well.  The local businesses were a lumber yard, an alfalfa dehydrator, and a soybean processor. 

    There is a medium sized High School, and Grade School still doing well. Most of the jobs are up in Wichita. At one time there were over 450 families that earned livings at Boeing and the other aircraft industries in Wichita.  The withering process continues.

 

 

 


 

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Muncie, Indiana...Orig. from Pennsylvania
  • 13,456 posts
Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:45 PM

locomutt

This is for Quentin, for his post.(Modelcar)

http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a1cc10b3127ccefeaa8e66b47700000030O08AcM3LJw3buQe3nwo/cC/f%3D0/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

Thanks Walt.

This goes along with my post below re: Small Towns, etc...

That painting is depicting {honoring}, history of the Lincoln highway...{route 30}.  That is main street in the photo, and was route 30 with the thru traffic until the traffic was moved over to a new bypass in 1938 as the road was completed.

Note the wreck truck is a Pierce Arrow model....Belonged to a garage right there in our little home town.

The hotel on the painting is the hotel I mentioned in my post below.  Note the "jitney" in the upper part of picture.....That made trips to the railroad depot to bring passengers to the hotel.  The brick building in my photo {left side}, is the hotel as it appears today.  It's now redone into senior appartments...and is very nice.

So that is our little home town in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Allegheney mountain ridge {in photo}, in the distance.  Lots of history passed on those streets....Many Army convoys....all kinds of traffic.

Quentin

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Louisville,Ky.
  • 5,077 posts
Posted by locomutt on Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:11 PM

This is for Quentin, for his post.(Modelcar)

Being Crazy,keeps you from going "INSANE" !! "The light at the end of the tunnel,has been turned off due to budget cuts" NOT AFRAID A Vet., and PROUD OF IT!!

  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 12,472 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:44 AM

     When I was in high school in the 70's, one of my history teachers used to play a game.  He would ask someone to name a town, any town, in the state, and he could tell you where it was.  It didn't matter how small the town was, or if the town was no longer there.  You just couldn't stump the guy.  Besides having an incredible  memory, his advantage was that he was a big railroad fan.  He could also tell you which rail line the town had been on, and approximately when the town was founded.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    March 2010
  • 64 posts
Posted by Diggwadd on Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:57 AM

Living in Northern Illinois I cannot name a small town that does not have a railroad running through it or once did.

 

A shining example is Kingston. In the late 1800s the population was double that what it is today. Many local farmers would bring there livestock to Kingston for loading onto railcars.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Muncie, Indiana...Orig. from Pennsylvania
  • 13,456 posts
Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:56 AM

....Small towns.  We come from one in Pennsylvania with just a bit larger population than Larry's location....{roughly, 450}.  Rt. 30, the cross country highway was main st. for decades.  The town thrived with dozens of small businesses for years...Many years...!

It even benefited from the coal industry {in the region}, and of course the multi steel mills in Johnstown.  At it's peak:  25,000 employees.

In fact, the town's origins date to 1778 and Forbs Road passed thru....

In 1937 {finished in '38} route 30 was taken out of the town via an update on the highway for 7 miles.  {A bypass just outside of town}.  Taking the thru traffic off "main st.", started the beginning of shrinking businesses.

And then...in 1940, October 1st., the Pennsylvania Turnpike {10 mi. south, parallel to rt. 30}, was opened, reducing much of the {thru}, traffic on route 30.

That has continued for decades until the town is now just "there"....nothing going in new....no new businesses....but the population is still roughly the same, and appears it will remain about that going forward.

County seat is just 10 mi. distant....and Johnstown, a small city {of flood fame}, is just 20 mi. north.  So any and all that is needed on a daily routine is near by.  So, the town continues on as a frozen in time residential spot.  Farming  continues around the area. 

The railroad {even passenger service}, 80 years ago is still in existance for some freight hauling, and some of it now supporting a unit train hauling coal out, and probably {in large part}, for export}.

Of course passenger trains exist no more, and the hotel which had "jittney" service from the depot", ....and which part of it dates to 1853, is now a renovated {and very nice}, appartments for seniors.

The demise of businesses in that small town, took about 80 years {or more}, to change it to just a residential  site as I explained above....

Quentin

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 4,105 posts
Posted by tatans on Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:12 AM

cx500

I think a case can be made that it was the automobile and a decent road network that doomed many of the smaller towns and villages.  The slightly larger town 20 miles away had a better selection or a few more services, and the automobile made it accessible.  Sure, in theory you could get there in earler times by the passenger train but it might involve an overnight stay or more before you could return.  By necessity you had to patronize the local merchants.  Once they started losing some of the business to the larger centers it became a downward spiral to closure.

Also the grain companies were closing smaller facilities in order to concentrate on fewer locations with greater storage.  Again the improved road network and trucks instead of horse haulage made the slightly longer haul feasible.  After delivering grain a farmer would often do some shopping in town, or meet with his buddies at the local coffee shop.  With the elevator gone, a lot of that casual business went elsewhere.  

Had a friend who collected stamps, his quest years back was to collect stamps with the cancellation stamp of every town or village in Saskatchewan, I think he actually managed to get them all, but today it's amazing how many of these places do not exist, it's in the hundreds in some cases there is not one indication a village even existed, but some of the places were very small and the railway closings did have a small effect but the writing was on the wall for their demise, I would think they were doomed before the railway left town. Seems everyone wants to live in Moose Jaw eh?

 

By the time a rail line was allowed to be abandoned many of the small towns were essentially gone anyway.  The Canadian Prairies are also dotted with towns that used to be, even along active track.  It is amazing how completely some have vanished, from a village with a commercial street to an expanded field of wheat and maybe a small nearby cemetary fenced off.  Other places a few inactive fire hydrants mark what used to be a village with dreams of future greatness.

John

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Vicksburg, Michigan
  • 2,301 posts
Posted by Andrew Falconer on Saturday, December 31, 2011 12:25 AM

In Kalamazoo County there was one small town called Pavilion that was right next to the Grand Trunk Western railroad tracks and siding. Pavilion, MI actually had a passenger station and some shops in the early 1900's. Pavilion never got bigger and is now just the location of a dairy farms and crops for the cows.

In Kalamazoo County the small town of Fulton, Michigan attempted to attract a railroad, but never did and it peaked in size in the 1950's. It is now contracting because it is also not anywhere near a big highway.  

There has to be a combination of a highway and the railroad to keep the small towns alive.

Andrew Falconer

Andrew

Watch my videos on-line at https://www.youtube.com/user/AndrewNeilFalconer

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Antioch, IL
  • 3,808 posts
Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:16 PM

And, another thing..

After thinking about this some more it was the internal cumbustion engine that led to the demise of many a small town, at least in the US.  (I don't know squat about Quebec and Binghamton, NY is not a small town.)

Not only did that wonderful development allow people to travel further and move their goods further, it helped make them more productive.

"In 1935, the number of farms in the United States peaked at 6.8 million as the population edged over 127 million citizens. As the number of farmers has declined, the demand for agricultural products has increased. This increased demand has been met (and exceeded) with the aid of large-scale mechanization (the use of large, productive pieces of farm equipment), improved crop varieties, commercial fertilizers, and pesticides. The need for human labor has also declined as evidenced by the increase in agricultural labor efficiency – from 27.5 acres/worker in 1890 to 740 acres/worker in 1990 (Illinois data; Hunt, 2001)."

http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/demographics.html

Less demand for labor means less demand for a town and the services of a town.  There's whole economic structure involved.  A certain number of people were needed to support a blacksmith (mechanic), a certain number  to support a store, a certain number to support an undertaker, a certain number to support a doctor, etc. 

Take the need for labor away, as ag mechanization has helped do, and you take away the need for a town.  The people needing goods and services are no longer there in sufficient numbers to support a town.  Ad in the fact that driving 40 miles to get groceries in an air conditioned 4WD truck while listening to your favorite tunes or yacking on the phone is no big deal and the need for many small towns is gone.

Gone along with the need for their rail service.

Edit to add:

An economically viable crop/livestock operation in the Corn Belt would have between 2,000 and 3,000 acres of row crops and between 500 and 600 sows.

Source:  Ibid.

That's a lot of sows for one farmer!  And a lot of acres!  Nothing like when the small towns developed.

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 20,455 posts
Posted by tree68 on Thursday, December 29, 2011 10:45 AM

I live in a hamlet of about 300 souls.  Never had rail service here, and never will. 

Back in the day there were two stores here, along with a doctor or two, a couple of small mills (ran on water power), one or two garages/blacksmiths, and a couple of places that served adult beverages, and may have even offered lodging.  Both the Oddfellows and the Masons had lodges here, and there were a couple of churches as well.

Now we're down to a convenience store, a barber shop, a couple of beauty shops, and a small diner.

"Town" is 15 minutes away with anything you could possibly want.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Guelph, Ontario
  • 3,905 posts
Posted by Ulrich on Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:23 AM

Small towns existed long before railroads  came along. Today I don't think the presence or absence of a  railroad through town makes that much of a difference unless the town is tied to heavy industry, and there are plenty of small towns these days that aren't. And even if there is heavy industry, it often makes more sense to truck to and from a regional reload point than to have alot of sidings all over the place servicing every little town and industry. A good example of that is New Brunswick (Canada). That province was at one time interlaced with branch lines and sidings but today even the capital, Fredericton, has no rail service. With a few exceptions, if you want to ship via rail in NB you need  to truck your product to a regional reload center first, the largest of which are in Saint John and Moncton.

Another example is central Quebec, the demise of the Quebec Central left many towns without any rail access...yet they continue to exist because truck rates out of Quebec are generally so cheap that even rail rates wouldn't be competitive. These towns existed before the railroad came along, and they seem to do ok after the railroad left.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 8,156 posts
Posted by henry6 on Thursday, December 29, 2011 8:28 AM

That's a great chicken/egg question, Murph. And the answers are as varied and arguable as any.  Yes the auto and the malls helped move the shopping out of downtown but the shippers were not affected.  There are good arguements for and against the concept that railroads closed towns.  I come down on the side that railroads had a major influence in building towns and tearing them down.  Yes, American industry changed as investors demanded high and quick returns on their money and thus closed factories and imported goods.  But also there were towns whose industry dried up or moved away when reliable or frequent rail services dissappeared, too.  The EL mainline across the Southern Tier of NY is a good example.  I am not denying that a lot of the industry was  dying anyway, but when Conrail elected to cut mainline services from Youngstown, PA east to Suffern, NY and into NJ, many small industries gave up for lack of good service.  Already EL had closed piggy b ack ramps in some areas forcing the carting of trailers to out of town locations...Binghamton-Endicott was closed and shippers had to drag trailers to Elmira for instance.  Again, I am not denying they were already dying, it is just that lack of mainline rail services gave them less ammunition to fight with with anywhere from an extra day or week for transit.  Small town mills and other similar retail industries learned to consolidate in one place rather than get daily or weekly scheduled deliveries at private sidings and team tracks.  It could be argued these were symptons of the overall demise of American industry at the time, others will aregue it was the cause.  In reality there were so many influences inside and outside local communities from investor oriented business, mall minded shoppers, and merged railroads and their consolidations into favored routes with great end to end potential as opposed to town hopping.

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 11,798 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:58 AM

The withering away of small towns has been going on for decades for the reasons best stated in the previous postings but some cultural aspects of the small town continue to live.  One thing that I have observed is that many people fervently believe that the suburb in which they live constitutes a small town, as opposed to the big city.  These people will do all sorts of things to preserve the "country" feel of their towns, even though the last farm in the area was sold to developers shortly after WW2 and the mom-and-pop grocery and hardware stores closed in the face of the big-box stores.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Antioch, IL
  • 3,808 posts
Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, December 29, 2011 1:28 AM

I think cx500 hit it over the fence and cleared the bases with his response.

Small towns (and I grew up in one) existed because people couldn't readily travel very far or transport goods very far by team and wagon without great expense and effort.  In the US and Canadian agrarian societies the railroads had to have stations every few miles to get things in and out at reasonable cost..  The towns these stations served were necessary centers of commerce.

Motor transport changed all that.  People and goods could go further.  Motor transport also changed the role of the railroad.  The rationalization of the rail networks was only a response to the changed roles.  It didn't cause the change.  It was a response to change.

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: Calgary
  • 1,912 posts
Posted by cx500 on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:28 PM

I think a case can be made that it was the automobile and a decent road network that doomed many of the smaller towns and villages.  The slightly larger town 20 miles away had a better selection or a few more services, and the automobile made it accessible.  Sure, in theory you could get there in earler times by the passenger train but it might involve an overnight stay or more before you could return.  By necessity you had to patronize the local merchants.  Once they started losing some of the business to the larger centers it became a downward spiral to closure.

Also the grain companies were closing smaller facilities in order to concentrate on fewer locations with greater storage.  Again the improved road network and trucks instead of horse haulage made the slightly longer haul feasible.  After delivering grain a farmer would often do some shopping in town, or meet with his buddies at the local coffee shop.  With the elevator gone, a lot of that casual business went elsewhere.  

By the time a rail line was allowed to be abandoned many of the small towns were essentially gone anyway.  The Canadian Prairies are also dotted with towns that used to be, even along active track.  It is amazing how completely some have vanished, from a village with a commercial street to an expanded field of wheat and maybe a small nearby cemetary fenced off.  Other places a few inactive fire hydrants mark what used to be a village with dreams of future greatness.

John

  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 12,472 posts
Railroad abandonment & disappearing small towns
Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 10:34 PM

     Did losing the rail line doom the small towns?  Or, were the small towns already dying, and the rail line being abandoned was just another nail in the coffin?

     My state has plenty of towns that have withered in the last 20-30 years.  Generally,  you can trace where the rail line used to run through town, and where the businesses used to be.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy