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I was writing on an article and was researching Monterey, CA, and my recollection of an older, no longer used passenger depot across the street from the Naval Post Graduate School, on Del Monte Ave. This was back in 1971.

So, like any good researcher, I jumped to aerial images on the web, and found it. As you can see from the link, the depot is gone, foundation visible at the north end of the parking lot. And if you look just north of that, it appears the line has been replaced with a bike path.

www.maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=q3028k4v9fwp&style=b&lvl=1&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=25011632&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1

I remember walking those tracks as a kid, and climbing in and on the covered hoppers sitting on the sidings. The only rail traffic at this time was to/from the few remaining sand companies still working.

I think it is a wonderful idea to reuse the right of ways for bike paths. Consider the Rail Trail, here on Cape Cod. It draws thousands of visitors each year. And the thought of being able to take my wheelchair back to Monterey, and once again able to "walk" the tracks, wow...

Though it is a little saddening for me. I remember looking at old B&W photos of Monterey in her glory days of steam and into the diesel transition. Now it seems as if the final blow has been dealt against trains, never allowing them to ride those rails again.

Does anyone here have recollections of the Monterey Days?
 

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Considering the land was originally taken from the owners by "eminant domain" usually without adequate compensation, the land should be given back to whomever owned the land before the railroad stole the land in the first place (or the new owners). The original deals had clauses that reverted the property back to the owner once the line was abandoned.

Rails to Trails is just stealing from the land owner -- again./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif

You are talking to a guy who's property line runs to the middle of the road in front of my house. Yep, they took it. If you look at the tax maps for this county, you would see that the county doesn't own any land at all!
 

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Hmmm...
1) Thread title reminded me of the old folks I see zipping along a couple of the paved bike trails here in powered wheelchairs....

2) Back when he first staked out the old homestead (literally), Dad reached the place via a mile long bulldozer trail extension off the end of the state road. Said bulldozer trail cut across not only his homestead but five or six others. Ten years after he got moved in and set up, the state extended the road, turning the first part of that old cat path into a two lane graded gravel road - then went and condemned about a dozen acres of the rest of his homestead for a right-of-way to continue it onwards. He never really complained all that much about it; the land condemned alternated between steep hills and swamps, carpeted with dense thickets of alders and devils clubs, plus it were set a fair distance back from the house.

3) Way things are getting, I have a strong suspicion that parts of these abandoned old railroad right-of-ways might be reactived for light rail systems.
 

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Interesting bit here as far as "taking" of land case in the Columbus, Ohio area (text from The Columbus Dispatch):

Land for bike path too expensive after all

Canal Winchester decided not to take a strip of property by eminent domain that a Franklin County Common Pleas jury determined was worth far more than the village wanted to pay.

The village offered Richard “Pete� Stebelton $9,249 for a 1-mile strip of his farm that it wanted for a bike path. Stebelton said the village should pay more because the path would cut off an entrance to his property.

A jury agreed, ruling that the village should pay $595,625 (Sept. 29, Page A1).

The Village Council voted on Nov. 19 to drop its eminent-domain case against Stebelton.

The result will be a shorter bike path. And the village has to pay Stebelton’s legal expenses, which are still being calculated.

Instead of 1½ miles, most of it across abandoned rail lines, the path will cover about 0.88 mile, between the village swimming pool and the intersection of Gender and Groveport roads, said Nanisa Osborn, Canal Winchester finance director.

The Ohio Department of Transportation had agreed to pay 80 percent of the construction cost of $1.57 million project but will not contribute for the shorter path, Osborn said.

â€" Dean Narciso


The trail ROW was to be an old interurban line at the rear of his property. My father and I talked to Pete about this last year, the problem is the property and the main road floods, and if the trail were to be put in, it could cut off a second entrance to his property when it does flood, as he would have no way to cross the bike path.

I have known this proerty for years, the previous owner of the farm owned a house in Bexley my folks rented back in the 1960s. This farm is the first place I ever rode a horse, and, a few minutes later, was the first place I fell of of a horse.

There is also a big mess in Hebron, Ohio with a bike trail now, apparently the trail developer did not read the deed for the railroad and once the rails were lifted (B&O abandoned the line in the early 1980sbut it was used for a tourist operation for about 20 years later), the property reverted back to its owners.....

http://www.newarkadvocate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080810/NEWS01/808100304/1002/NEWS01
 

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I'm not so sure rails to trails really represents progress. Those railroad companies placed some expensive resources into the creation of those rail beds. Saddest of all for me is the John Wayne Trail which replaces the original Milwaukee Road right of way in Washington--one of the best engineered rail beds in the western U.S.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Allow me to state my intension was in no way to start bashing railroads. Yes, they took lots of land. It wasn't my intention to open old wounds.

I lived just a half mile from the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and would use it to get to my favorite fishing hole. I took a 10th of a mile trip to the culvert connecting the West Resivoir of Bell's Neck with the Herring River. The path crossed the culvert between the river and the resevoir. Just before the culvert, I'd have to wheel down a 100' path to land at the water. I can't even begin to tell the wonderful times I spent with my two boys growing up here. And that 100' was some of the most brutal off-road I have ever taken in my wheelchair, and well worth it.

Here a link to the aerial shot:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=dennisport,+ma&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.68772,-70.124885&spn=0.003357,0.006523&z=17

And the best part, half way between the parking lot and the culvert, there are the remnents of a small trestle siding. Not sure if it was a siding for the Cranberry bog there today, or not. Looks like it may have been a drop for some hoppers too. Perhaps I'll research it more.
I guess my origional thought as I wrote this is... Yeah, it $ucks that trains are much less prominant than before. Though for me, when I take a "Rail Trail", I can't help but to see a train's history every where I look.
 

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Kent,

You are riding the old New Haven up there on the Cape!

The title of your post "Bike Paths. Are they the next step in the evolution of trains?" is an interesting one.

I think that bike paths are the next logical step in the evolution of our transportation system. They do not necessarily need to be old railroad beds but they do need to go from where people live to where people want to go. Probably the best thing would for them to not be rr beds, but it seems to be easier to convert an abandonded railbed to a trail than to take land away from owners for the creation of one.

Personally, I love having pedestrian/bicycle/equistrian only routes. When I was in Golden, CO for a conference last year, I was shocked at how many paved paths they had connecting the down town areas with the suburban neighborhoods and even the Railroad museum there. I imagine it was not cheap, but it was a nice feature of that community. Seemed like folks living there liked them as well, since I saw more than a few people using the multi-use trails. On my commute/ride to work, I have only about 1 mile of dedicated bike path.

Rail to trail paths are great uses of otherwise overgrown weed patches. I think that as a landowner, I would NOT want an abandonded railbed. Can you say clean up? I view all railroads as potential superfund sites. I know I wouldn't want to be responsible for that. I don't think the RR companies do, either. That's probably why they negotiate with counties to take over the abandoned right of ways. Plus, as Kent has found, there is the added bonus of the potential to learn more about the railroad that went through such and such place.

Mark
 

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The 3 problems I have is that 1. around here they are using property that is "railbanked (ie inactive, but technically not totally abandoned. So the property doesn't revert to the landowners)... so in THEORY in case of "national emergency" the line could be reactivated...except who actually believes they are EVER gonna go through the expense to relay all the rail? (In a more urban setting they might grab it for mass transit someday, but not out here in the boonies) and 2. after they put them in they don't seem to have a plan for maintenance of the bridges or a CLUE who's insurance covers (or more likely doesn't) anyone injured on the trail. and 3 for it being for non motorized traffic only, the local and state police use them as shortcuts an awful lot .
 

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Mik,

Did they finish rebuilding the spur track up to the Homer City generation plant yet? When I was there 5 years ago, they were still trucking in all the coal. The road was essentially destroyed by those coal trucks, so I wonder who will pay to have that repaired.

In Lancaster Co, the former PRR low grade line has been transferred to the municipalities through which it runs/ran. There has been a question of bridges, and I think some are actually going to be removed. I suspect that the people who really want the trails will find a way to replace any bridges removed.

Mark
 

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I did the noise assessment for a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the conversion of a railroad ROW to a bike path in Tustin, CA.

The concern was that the bike path would increase noise because the ROW had not been used in years and there were no longer any tracks there.

I went out to existing bike paths and did noise measurements as bikers proceeded along the trail and extrapolated these data to the chosen path to assess the noise impacts. There were also issues of privacy. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif
 

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One thing to remember RR where given land grants, they did not take land from anyone. Once land owners resided on either side of the RR the land then would revert back to a present land owner when the Railroad abandoned the track. However politics do get in the way. Later RJD
 

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Posted By Mik on 08/25/2008 9:16 AM

The 3 problems I have is that 1. around here they are using property that is "railbanked (ie inactive, but technically not totally abandoned. So the property doesn't revert to the landowners)... so in THEORY in case of "national emergency" the line could be reactivated...except who actually believes they are EVER gonna go through the expense to relay all the rail? (In a more urban setting they might grab it for mass transit someday, but not out here in the boonies) and 2. after they put them in they don't seem to have a plan for maintenance of the bridges or a CLUE who's insurance covers (or more likely doesn't) anyone injured on the trail. and 3 for it being for non motorized traffic only, the local and state police use them as shortcuts an awful lot .


In most cases, I hope, we are talking about old mining or logging short lines. It makes sense to re-use them for bike paths since obviously they have no other value as right-of-ways. But when it comes to old Class A lines, I have a real problem seeing them revert to such bike trails unless the right-of-way is held for possible future re-use for mass transit and/or freight trains.  It just seems like such a step backwards to me to turn a class A rail line into a bike path unless there is no possible re-use for it.
 

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I just had to chime in on this thread!:)
I just biked a full round trip on the entire length of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, including the relatively new Chatham branch, about 2 weeks ago - a 60-mile ride!:cool: Took me 5 hours, 21 minutes of "actual" ride time:D, at an average speed a bit of around 11.3 MPH. (Not counting a 2 food stops - one for ice cream, another for a burger & fries, & a few quick "pit stops"/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif along the trail).
I also bike the East Bay Bike Trail in Rhode Island (it's 10 miles from my home town of Fall River, MA.) once or twice a week; I'll do up to about 18.5 miles on a workday (which means riding FAST - to get to work on time, I have to average at least 13 MPH (I'm doing sprints over 20)/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif
I know I've seen a lot of "fuss"/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif over rail-to-trail conversions in the railfan community; here's a bit of my "2 cents worth";)...
Here in Fall River, they just converted 3/4 of a mile of the former New Haven RR "Watuppa Branch" (whose name inspired my free-lance, narrow-gauge, steam-powered "Watuppa Railway" as a garden RR roadname:) ). Here's some of the present-day condition of another part of the branch slated for eventual bike trail conversion:/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif:



The last freight rumbled over these rails something like 30 years ago;/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif a grade crossing was pulled over a busy city street a few hundred feet beyond the end of the rails in the last photo a few years later, isolating these VERY well-worn rails (Note that in the first 2 photos, one rail is starting to partially turn over, having long ago pulled loose from the rotted ties/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif ).
Although as a railfan I hate/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif to see the rails come up, bike trail conversion has it's GOOD POINTS:) from a railfan's point-of-view as well:
1.) The right-of way is (mostly) PRESERVED.:cool: (In some cases, bridges are long-gone, bike & pedestrian traffic needs to be safely routed over, under, or around busy street grade crossings for safety).
2.) You get to see what it was like to ride along that right-of-way./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif Passenger service was abandoned on the Watuppa Branch in the 1920's/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif; the Chatham branch of the Cape Cod Rail Trail was pulled up about 1937/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/ermm.gif; the rest of the CCRT was abandoned mostly by the early 1960's, long before the Penn Central takeover of the New Haven/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif.
3.) Railroad structures (bridges, tunnels, & stations) are often preserved as part of the rail-trail conversion process /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif - & if not, you often get to see some "railroad archeology"./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif Here's some examples from the Cape Cod Rail Trail:/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif
- Here's the trail map to start; the dark red line is the main portion of the CCRT (22 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet);: the lighter pink line branching off is the Chatham branch, which was completed @ 2 years ago:

Just over a mile from the start of the trail on Rt 134A in South Dennis is a large bike shop (called the "Bike Depot"/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif ); just past it (heading east) is a former grade crossing. Just 100 feet or so past the crossing, there is a depression to the right side of the ROW: down in there are the rotting timbers of a collapsed coal trestle: /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif

(How do I know this? The trestle was recognizable as such until it collapsed after one of our more severe New England winters/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif a few years back). There are also some newer (well-preserved):) concrete coal trestle piers a bit further back, but they were too obscured by underbrush for me to photograph this time around./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/plain.gif
The CCRT is one of the oldest rail-trails (just over 25 years old) in the area, & was completely re-paved over the last 2 years; as part of the trail upgrade, these nice granite mile-markers were installed (this is mile marker 3, coming into Harwich):

- and just beyond this marker, on the left, are the sad remains of a former railroad customer, Harwich Lumber Company /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif :


There was a yard at this point; Harwich was an important junction with the Chatham branch just beyond here. Since the original highway overpass bridge just beyond had lone since been replaced by a fill after the line's abandonment, a low culvert takes the bike path under the road. Where that dump trailer is parked behind the fence was the original site of the Harwich passenger station:

On the other side, a rarity - a bike path rotary!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif This is the former location of a wye where the Chatham branch joined.

- & if you look carefully in the underbrush to the right of that "Yield" sign entering the rotary; you'll find a forlorn /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif hunk of rusted, curved rail, probably tossed there when the Chatham branch was pulled up:


Here's the start of the Chatham branch:

- and a view of the center of the rotary (& what's that WIERD-LOOKING BIKE???/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif ):

That's MY ride:cool: - my $2000, /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif 27-speed Cannondale "recumbent"!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif


(In terms of the ride it gives - this is the bicycle equivalent of a luxury sports car!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif ).
That's all I have time to post tonight, I have plenty MORE pictures as well!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif Tom
 

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Tom,

Nice write up. Leave it to you guys up in Mass to have a rotary on your bike path! You guys love those freaking things!

Nice bike, too.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Tom,

That coal trestle you showed just off Depot St, that was the exact structure I was explaining at the end of my 2nd posting. Thanks for the clarification.
 

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i have a few comments and I'll try to not be to ornery. A co-worker was recently hit while walking her baby ina stroller and her daughter on a scooter on our local bike path. the baby got some bumps and bruises and the daughter was fine but the co-worker suffered pretty bad. Concussion bruised internals (luckily only bruised) and cracked ribs from a careless cyclist who wasn't paying attention at speed.

Portions of our local just over 6 mile trail is older rail road spurs and lines that were long gone. In one area it is on the original steam line roadbed that ran from Olean NY to Bradford PA. In another it is on old PRR railyard property that runs adjacent to the current railyards that now belong to WNY&PA RR. but were fomerly Conrail/PRR. In other areas they follow power lines to make a huge loop.

In other areas of our county they've taken older modern (1900's) spurs and converted them to all season usage meaning more ATV & Snowmobile than Bike path although I think some interpid Mountain bikers use them too. I'd think the motor vehicle hazards would be similar to the co-workers collision?

The aformentioned railyards had been at the end of the old Erie Line that ran thru PA to Jamestown and then thru Salamanca NY and into Olean and onward over some serious grades to Hornell and Eastward from there. The line ahd been all but abandoned back in the 60's and I can barely remember trains checking the rails into the 70's. For over 30 years that line sat dormant with many washouts and bridges in need of huge repair. It was successfully re-opened a few years ago and upgrades continue along with new business. The prime reason however was coal hauing. There are two or four trains that run over the line daily now along with the local traffic that had been routed to Conrail and that NS didn't want. Some of Scat Lawrences fabled Alco's now reside most nights within a mile from my house. NEVER EVER think they will not or cannot re-open a rail line even if the rails are rotted beyond use. All it takes is a reason for the traffic and it will be opened fast! Once they committed to running Coal unit trains on that line it was open within a few months.

Chas
 

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Tom,

Because of your pictures, I decided to check out my local rail trail at lunch. Wasn't I surprised to find that the railroad track is not removed, but a path has been built on what appears to be the old second track. This is the York Heritage Rail Trail, or the old Northern Central Railroad from York to Baltimore. The track wasn't 100 mph track, probably more like 15, but the rails were polished meaning that trains were using that line. It was neat to run along for about two miles or so. There was a signal bridge still in place, but the semaphores were gone. At one point, a new concrete trail bridge was built next to a standard plate girder bridge. Several of the sidings appear to have been built along with the construction of the trail, based on their condition versus the rest of the line.

It must be one of the rare cases where the rail line still exists next to the bike path. Given the condition of the rail, you might even be able to pace the train on your bicycle, but that might piss off the crew!! Plus, there were more than a few times when the trail crossed the tracks at grade to avoid an industrial spur.

http://www.yorkcountyparks.org/parkpages/railtrail.htm

Here's an interesting survey report:
http://www.yorkcountyparks.org/PDF/2007%20Rail%20Trail%20User%20Survey%20Report%20VERSION%204.1.pdf

They don't really mention the existing railroad tracks too much.

I did see about a dozen or so other people using the trail during their lunch breaks to take a walk/run/bike. No horses! And sadly, no trains either.

South of New Freedom, it looks like the tracks are not connected. I know that once upon a time in the not-so-distant past, there were excursion dinner trains along this line originating in New Freedom. I think they stopped running because there was a problem with parking and the neighbors. Too bad, as with the new condos being built there, it might have been a reason to run from New Freedom to York as a kind of commuter service. Then again, you could just ride your bike up the trail, probably faster than a train would get you there...
 

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Here in western NY we have a lot of "rails to trails" bike paths built over the last 10 years or so..
they are very nice!
and they are built on abandoned rail lines that would NEVER be re-activated..because there would be no need to ever reactivate them.
Existing rail service is more than adequate.

They were abandoned in the first place because there was an over abundance of rail lines in the area..the need for rail lines in 1870 - 1890 (when they were built) was quite different than 1960..or 2008.

Our longest trail is the "Genesee Greenway" trail..built along the ROW of the PRR Rochester branch, and the PRR Rochester branch was built along the Genesee Canal..which was never needed in the first place! the PRR Rochester branch was pretty much a rendundant unnecessary line from the beginning..it was only built so the PRR could access "New York Central" territory..but Rochester certaintly wasnt in need of another railroad when the PRR arrived.

its a great trail! runs about 90 miles from Rochester south to the PA/NY state border.

Other shorter trails are built along the former Lehigh Valley mainline in Western NY..
The LV was immediately abandoned by Conrail in 1976..because it was a redundant New York-Buffalo route that no one needed..

there were once FOUR major Class-1 systems running between New York City and Buffalo:

Erie
New York Central
DL&W
LV

EL abandoned the DL&W after the EL merger in 1960..
Conrail abandoned the LV in 1976..
only two of the four routes remain intact today..
the former Erie, in use by Conrail, and today NS.
and the former New York Central, in use by Conrail, and today CSX.

the other two routes, DL&W and LV, really were redundant and unnecessary by the 1960's...
and there is no conceivable reason they would ever be needed again.

So many many railtrails are built on lines that truly, sadly, are not needed today..even in cases of "national emergency"

Scot
 

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Nice recumbent Tom, I just bought a bright orange Downtube folder, let's hear it for small wheel bikes!

http://www.downtube.com/Full_Suspension_Folding_Bike.html

Chas, sorry to hear about your co-worker, having been both a bike rider and a walker (with my children and stroller) on the Greenway here in Nashvegas, TN, the wannabe Lance Armstrongs complete with jiggly Spandex buzzing you are a pain.

Also are a pain are the "Widettes" that insist in walking side by side with severe arm swing and won't alow you to pass them when walking .

Then there are the joggers that will bolt out in front of you to pass another jogger that is going 0.000000000000000000000000003 mph slower without any warning when you are on a bike.

I have learned that a bell on the bike works well. If you do the "on your left" warning, half the time, whomever the intended audience is, will then TURN or MOVE to the left.
 
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