Trails to Rails

You may have noticed there is a blog category of “Trails to Rails”. It wouldn’t be shocking if you thought that was a typo. 😉

As the United States has deliberately been weakened by deindustrialization, one marker of “Progress” by the Left has been the rate at which destroyed railroads have been converted into bike paths (using gasoline excise tax dollars, of course).

A continuous flat deeded (or easement) strip of land connecting two communities is a very valuable resource – they have often been used for pipelines and fiber optic cables. Typically an easement will say something like if the railroad abandons the right of way for some period of time, the easement ends and control returns to the landowner.

Making a bike trail is a way to hold the rights to the ROW even though it no longer has tracks. The Rails to Trails contract typically has language allowing the railroad to tear up the bike path and put down a new roadbed and convert “Trails to Rails”.

Introducing the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad

As was commonly done, large amounts of unprofitable trackage was spin off from the major railroads to small privately owned railroads. Freed of onerous union rules and operating rules designed only to protect obsolete jobs, these railroads typically could survive by giving local businesses service the big guys never could.

The Wheeling and Lake Erie has had a miracle. This thing called fracking came along. The railroad is springing back to life – hauling sand to West Virginia and Pennsylvsnia from The Midwest, and hauling the condensed hydrocarbons (Butane, Propane, etc) that are by products of natural gas production to Toledo, Ohio for further processing.

Now there is real Progress!

This entry was posted in American Politics, Energy Supply, Trails to Rails, US Economic Recovery. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Trails to Rails

  1. Nidster says:


    There is something to be said about this……..

  2. Art Stone says:

    This rail line was Norfolk and Western and the closest rail line to where I grew up. If you follow the route along the South side of Mount Washington then around the West End, you’ll notice there are no surviving interchange points. The Pennsy Panhandlr line to Chicago is long gone, the Wabash tunnel and bridge to the freight and passenger terminal at the Point was gone before I was born. The P&LE along the river is a mere shell of its former self.

    Hauling containers from Asia to Europe pays the bills. It’s running late, but the newer bigger Panama Canal should be online soon.

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      I believe the south side of Chicago has (or at least had) and old rail line converted into a road for government’s buses (private vehicles were prohibited, I believe). Can anyone confirm?

      • Art Stone says:

        It sounds like you’re talking about the area from the Convention Center to downtown. I lived about a year at Michigan and Randolph. There used to be railroad tracks through the area that us now Millenial park. They connected to a dock that I think was used in WW II. The tracks were there when I lived there in 1989, but their days were numbered. So the area toward the side of the lake (East of the Illinois Central commuter line going into Randolph/Millenial Station has been made into a busway mainly to keep the buses off Lakeshore Drive.

        Maybe six months ago, they opened the South Lake Shore drive extension giving a better connection to the Skyway toll road (that’s just a normal street)

        • Art Stone says:

          Google Earth has a slider bar to show historical photos over time. They probably have before and after pictures. This how we spot what N Korea is up to. The other day, someone mentioned on the record what is pretty obvious – the Keyhole company Google acquired built the Google Earth software for the CIA. Keyhole is the name of our spy satellites – they are roughly the Hubble Telescope pointed at Earth with a different optic system (or the other way around)

    • Parrott says:

      LOL , Hey NoT so Fast you Imperialist ! See this:
      “AP) Idle cranes tower over the construction site of the Panama Canal’s expansion project. Work on the ambitious Panama Canal expansion project was halted Wednesday after talks broke down on how to settle a dispute over $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The consortium, which is led by Spain’s Sacyr SA and includes firms from Italy and Belgium, says that 10,000 jobs are immediately at risk. In a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, it said Panama’s failure to resolve the impasse threatens to overshadow a summit of 34 hemispheric leaders, including US President Barack Obama, which the Central American nation will host next year.” { Parrott comment-> LMAOL }

      “The consortium blames the extra costs largely on problems with studies that the Panamanian authority conducted before work began. It says geological obstacles encountered while excavating have prevented it from getting the basalt needed to make the vast amounts of concrete required.
      Quijano said the consortium had maintained “,,,an inflexible position and the rocks are hard.”
      Sacyr’s share price plunged on the news of the work stoppage, falling almost 7 percent in Madrid trading.
      Many experts say the roots of the dispute lie in the consortium’s underestimation of project costs when it won the contract in 2009 by submitting by far the lowest bid: $3.1 billion for its portion of the job, $1 billion less than a bid by U.S. construction giant Bechtel.”

      “In the United States, ports have invested billions of dollars in dredging, raising bridges and renovating docking infrastructure to accommodate the new generation of larger ships, including liquefied natural gas tankers, that could pass through an expanded Panama Canal.”

      Yeah who built that canal ? That’s right, USA , Who’s your daddy? LOL
      Git-R-Done, 1914 . Nuff said,
      Jimeny Carter gave it away. Its a wonder he didn’t give it to N. Korea

  3. Parrott says:

    And if you are interested in watching trains, here is the rail cam on the old Norfolk & western mainline in Roanoke VA.
    They are getting ready to rebuild the crossovers here to allow higher speeds.
    The track furthermost to the right is the beginning of the line that goes to Winston-Salem NC.
    The two in the middle is the main to Lynchburg, Va and on to Norfolk Va. A lot of export coal and double-stack trains use these.
    The one on the left is the Shenandoah line that goes north to Hagerstown, Maryland, and parallels I 81. If you see it coming toward you, it will be headed south to Knoxville TN. If it is empty hoppers headed toward the camera, they will be headed west to Bluefield West Virginia. The camera is at the VA Transportation Museum.
    There is a good bit of activity here, It is between a major yard and the NS shops (former N&W shops) and they do heavy repairs on Locomotives.
    It updates pretty quick,

    • Art Stone says:

      I’m one who doesn’t get all fired up about steam locomotives. They were a very important part of railroad history and building this country and worthy of having in museums, but the surviving operational engines are becoming unsupportable.

      To show what a geek I am, in my much younger days, I spent a lot of time playing this:

      They no longer sell it or support it – it’s a program that lets you experience what it is like to be a train dispatcher. There are no sound effects, no 3d train effects. It is just the track layouts as you would see them on a train dispatcher’s wall. You have a train schedule and control of the switches and signals. The rest is up to you.

      Most of the layouts are based on the real thing, some of them from the heyday of rail divisions that no longer exist. I remember spending a lot of time learning the New Jersey Transit portion of New York City (Pre 9/11). Getting the trains in and out of the station under the WTC took constant attention. The NorthEast Amtrak corridor in Connecticut was pretty boring. Most of the route is 4 parallel tracks, two in each direction, and freight trains only at night.

      The one I could never get my brain around was Toledo. There were so many sources of traffic and destinations and interconnections and different ways to get there, I would end up having to back up trains to correct mistakes.

      • briand75 says:

        I love steam engines. It puts the “choo” in “choo choo” trains. Reminds me of my childhood (which I may have never left). I lived near a facility that manufactured steam and later diesel electric locomotives. Train dispatch software geeky? No. Searching the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” executable file with a sector editor until I found the “You’re way out there now” message – that’s geeky.

    • Art Stone says:

      One of the books I read a while back makes the point that railroads in the South have done much better because of the Civil War. The North thoroughly destroyed the South’s railroads, which were still not well developed and used a variety of non standard gauges, in part to prevent the North from someday using the tracks to transport troops and weapons should an insurrection ever happen.

      After the war, the railroads had little money, so rail lines were only built where there was an obvious and permanent source of traffic and only as few parallel lines and sidings as necessary. The Pennsylvania, New York Centrail, B&O, C&O, Wabash, etc… had a lot of difficult to operate, expensive facilities they didn’t have the money to maintain that slowly deteriorated, winding up in Penn Central, then Conrail, then bankruptcy.

    • Art Stone says:

      What does it mean if I see a locomotive on the white tracks on the right side?

      I thought I saw my first train, but it turned out to be just 4 locomotives heading northish probably to pick up a train

      It takes longer now for a passenger train to get from New York to Chicago than it did 100 years ago. Same thing for the Chicago “L” trains. The Chicago & North Shore ran at 80 MPH to/from Milwakee.

      One of the innovations of the New York Central RR was the ability to pick up water without slowing down

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        It takes longer to drive from from one side of town to the other than it did 50 years ago.

        Someone thought that buying and installing all the energy consuming traffic lights would speed things up and they generally have the opposite effect. Better to just have more lanes to an intersections so several cars can accelerate then merge on the other side.

        • Art Stone says:

          Charlotte has developed a peculiar way of coping with intersection congestion. Most major intersections have 2 lanes of left turn – often with the same thing with 2 lanes facing you. So not only do you have to keep an eye on the cars turning with you, you’re coming fairly close to the opposing traffic. U-turns at intersections are also highly encouraged – creating potential collisions between the U turner and a right turn on red person on the cross street. Here the u-turner has to yield to the right turn on red. I’ve already seen one such accident.

          The way suburban Detroit does this works out much better, although it is confusing until you understand it. To turn left at a major intersection, you turn right and then make a U-turn in a dedicated u-turn lane protected by its own traffic signal. Since there is no need for a left turn portion of the traffic cycle, dwell time is minimal. The signals here on the major roads are extremely long. The purpose is to create very big gaps in traffic to allow people to enter and exit side streets and shopping centers.

          The “central planners” made conscious decisions to limit the number of streets that go anywhere, creating large areas of dead end subdivisions that only face one road. This forces traffic to have to go way out if its way and all be crammed onto a few major streets. It probably makes it easier to hand out speeding tickets.

          Simcity is a game, not a way to “design” a city. It’s beyond me why anyone would want to relocate a business here.

          • Art Stone says:

            There is a news story that people downtown want “somebody” to build another skyscraper without any tenant lined up. The “thinking” is that not having a huge glut of vacant office space means some major companies may bypass Charlotte as a place to locate. Nonsense – few businesses now “need” to be downtown with the parking and traffic issues that creates.

          • CC1s121LrBGT says:

            The WTC and not the Freedom tower was built with toll road money with the goal of forcing more people to use the toll bridges and tunnels. The Port Authority charges $13.00 cold cash each time you drive from NJ to NYC.

          • Art Stone says:

            I worked with two women who had worked in the World Trade Center and said it was a horrible place to work. The buildings would sway enough that things on your desk would roll around. Getting in and out of the building was a real nuisance, especially if you worked on the upper floors. It pretty much always had a high vacancy rate.


            Just as an aside, the two women were not very bright and left NASDAQ to go to work for Bernie Madoff…

          • CC1s121LrBGT says:

            It’s pretty clear, with hindsight, why Bernie would want to hire people that were not too bright.

          • Art Stone says:

            NASDAQ was created by NASD (Bernie was in charge at the time) – NASD was a Washungton DC based lobbying organization full of lawyers and the pretense of self regulation of security dealers. If you are a hot stuff securities lawyer, you go to work for Goldman Sachs or J P Morgan, not NASDAQ. A lot of the people seemed to be relatives of people in the securities business.

            When Frank Zarb (who had been forced onto NASDAQ by the SEC) announced he was going to retire, not one person in senior management wanted his job. By default, the job went to a genuinely nice guy that I had met several times – he was an egghead mathematician who had been running the department that did economics analysis. He had no idea what the real world is like and no prior experience running anything. That was a major factor in my packing up and moving on.

      • Parrott says:

        >”What does it mean if I see a locomotive on the white tracks on the right side?”
        LOL, well if it’s on the painted white track, Norfolk Southern has had a major malfunction!
        the white track is the Roanoke rail walk. I have noticed the PoPo there from time to time, watching, I guess.
        There is a coke plant off to the left out out of sight, the track peels off before the bridge where they take cars of high fructose corn syrup in there.
        It has a surprisingly good picture at night.

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