Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby Mitch » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:49 pm

When it first came out I downloaded it. I was also working on a painting that had a tight deadline of one week. That same week I received my copy of -otto-'s NYW&B book. I did the entire painting the night before it was due. Things got worse when I got the notion that I needed to trace out every part of Pittsburgh Railways. Work in the studio came to a halt. Same thing almost happened to my marriage.

I don't know what was worse. Tracing the lines or downloading all sorts of PRys pics to place as thumbnails on the map.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby RussNelson » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:14 am

Men tend to obsess on things: http://rutlandtrail.org/list.cgi (all the railroads in New York State with dedicated ROWs).
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby gemimail » Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:50 pm

We found Google™ Maps and Terraserver (both the maps and the aerial photos) to be invaluable in mapping the lines built up to 1850. That is why we now display those lines as an overlay on Google™ Maps on our website at http://www.oldrailhistory.com. A good example is the old Nashua and Groton Railroad in New Hampshire which has long since been abandoned. You can clearly make out where it used to go. See http://oldrailhistory.com/index.php?opt ... 85&zoom=13 and then zoom in for a closer look.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby RussNelson » Tue Sep 09, 2008 5:22 pm

Hey, cool! I've added a link to OldRailHistory.com on my RutlandTrail.org/list.cgi page -- could you link to it from your Links page?
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby lpetrich » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:04 am

I've used Google Maps and Google Earth a lot myself.

I rermember once following Sacramento's light-rail lines with Google Maps to see how much is now double-tracked; I've done some following of other rail lines also.

Google Earth can display layers showing a variety of features; for example,

Primary Database > Places of Interest > Transportation > Rail

You do have to home in a bit to see the railroad-line mapping; the lines are black with no owner or other information shown.

Google Earth also has the ability for you to draw your own maps; you can add placemarks, lines, polygons, picture overlays, and even 3D-model objects. You can save these maps as files, and make them available for downloading in some webspace. The map format is fully documented, so you can compose a map by hand or else write a program to create a map from some collection of data, like a spreadsheet full of locations' latitudes and longitudes and descriptions.


Google Maps does have some competition. Yahoo Maps is a bit disappointing. While Google Maps has a maximum zoom of 20, Yahoo Maps has a maximum zoom that is close to Google Maps zoom value 17. [quote=http://www.mapquest.com/]Mapquest[/url] does a bit better, going to about 18.5 by Google standards. However, you have to do a search before you get a map in Mapquest, unlike Google Maps or Yahoo Maps.

And while Google Maps and Mapquest have zoom increasing upwards, Yahoo Maps has zoom increasing downwards, so prepare to be confused. :)

Terraserver operates in rather cumbersome fashion, with a small image pane and an annoying pause every time you zoom or move. Its maximum zoom is a little less than Google Maps 19. Terraserver USA is better in some ways (bigger image pane) and worse in others. Its maximum zoom is a bit less than Google Maps 16. Terraserver, both plain and USA, does have the nice feature of offering topographical maps, so you can tell what slopes a place has. The elevations are in feet, as far as I can tell; I tried homing in on Ithaca, NY and found its elevation values consistent with that. Those values are unlabeled numbers, though some of them interrupt the contours.

I finally tried out Microsoft Virtual Earth. Its zoom controls are magnifying glasses with + and -, and not a zoom slider; its maximum zoom is a little less than Google Maps 19, but unlike Terraserver, its images are full resolution even there. MSVE also worked much like Google's, Yahoo's and Mapquest's map displayers, updating as one zooms or pans. MSVE also has "Bird's eye", which gives you high-resolution views at a slant; you rotate the view direction with the arrows below the magnifying glasses.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby RussNelson » Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:38 pm

flashearth.com is pretty nice. Gives you access to multiple sources of imagery, including Google, Terraserver, Microsoft Virtual Earth, Yahoo, and Ask. Ask has infared imagery as its most detailed layer here in northern New York. That's great stuff because it can punch through vegetation.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby lpetrich » Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:18 pm

I checked on ask.com and it uses Microsoft Virtual Earth. Where is the infrared imagery in ask.com's map displays?
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby RussNelson » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:20 pm

You have to go in to the highest possible resolution and they don't have it everywhere. They do have it in Norwood, NY, and you can see the wye at the east end of the yard using it. I think that wye dates from the 1870's when the yard was the terminus of the railroad.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby atsf sp » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:28 pm

I use Google maps alot. Before any trip I go on and see where the roads I am taking are parralleling tracks and how far of a distance away. I Used this to plan my trip to the west. RT50 in MO, great UP. And I also found the best roads in KS, ND, and CO. Google Maps helped me find Moffat. Also helped me find displayed engines such as the ATSF engine in Topeka since there were no directions. And when I went up to Canada I looked it up. Also when I went to Palmer this year I found all the yards and best spots for engines. But you could get around the non-full zoom. Such as in eastern CO. I found abandoned Rock Island tracks. They still had bridges on them. I am always on google maps.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby Minneapolitan » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:40 pm

Being a geography geek, I can't even imagine my life without Google Maps anymore.

It may be the single best resource available to the "armchair railroad archaeologist." Once you develop an eye for abandoned railways, there isn't much you can't find. Of course, you need to know what to look for. Sometimes you only need to see a flaw in a town's street grid to find a location.

Aside from that, there's Bing Maps which has a very handy 45° angle.

I highly recommend it!
Nickel Plate Road should have merged with ERIE.

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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby Durango1917 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:44 pm

I use it. Its cool to see everything offset where a rail line used to be.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby scharnhorst » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:58 am

I Use Google Earth. Comes in handy when looking for something and for places that maybe good to fishing too.
no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby Watchman318 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:15 pm

The "previous imagery" or whatever it's called in Google Earth can be fun, too. Going back some years, the resolution won't be as good, but you can see changes that occurred in just the time since satellite imagery became available.
I think early views of Brunswick, Maine (forgot the year) show two tracks across Union St., and later views showed one track. Now it's back to two tracks, since the Amtrak Downeaster extension, so sometimes the view isn't just of "gone and mostly forgotten." :-)
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby Adirondacker » Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:21 pm

Tax maps, when they are online can be helpful. Even though the railroad was abandoned a long time ago and the ROW subdivided into many small parcels you can see the long line of oddly shaped lots that resulted from it. Tax maps can also be a great way to waste time. Like wandering the Hell's Gate line in the Bronx, things like half the ROW was bought from one owner and half from another and the ROW is on the tax records as two separate pieces of property. If you are lucky the tax maps have dimensions too.... that if the Hell's Gate line proves to be really popular they have more than enough room to put in enough track for super-express service, express service and local service and still have room for platforms within the existing ROW.... and that nobody has bothered to change the owner's name on lots of the parcels so the southbound side is still on the books as being owned by Consolidated Rail and the northbound side is owned by National Railroad Passenger Corp.

A friend lives off in the woods. It wasn't off in the woods when his great grandfather bought the property over 100 years ago. It was right on the main road which had the railroad next to it. Yep, the tax maps still have the long parcels laid out on it. The city owns what used to be the main road which is now a country lane and to the west of it 100 feet of something that may someday become a bikeway which is owned by the county. It can't be seen on satellite images because it was abandoned so long ago that the trees growing on it blend in with the rest of the trees. Can barely see the street/country lane because it's so heavily tree-ed. Might if Historic Aerials has something from the 30s. I haven't checked. Historic Aerials can waste a lot of time too.

Google can usually find the tax maps for a county by searching for "{county name state name} GIS" Many places don't have them online.
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Re: Does anyone use the Google Maps / Satellites?

Postby RussNelson » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:20 am

Yep. I'm pretty sure that I found the routing of the unfinished Ogdensburg, Clayton, and Rome in the city of Rome that way. There are a bunch of lots with suspicious lines in them that all line up with each other and not with any of the roads.
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