Logging Railroads

There can be hundreds of miles of former logging railroads within a single county in the Lake States- Wisconsin/Minnesota/Michigan. Any interest in locating these and tagging with the railway:abandoned tag?

As a nationwide contributor to “Rail USA,” (United States/Railroads, many state Railroads wikis, Amtrak…), I’d say Yes.

How do you propose to do this? Hike around? Import old map data?

In (very rural Northern) California, we have what’s called Long Bell Lumber Company Railroad (relation/6741116), what is called in our California/Railroads wiki “A disjointed relation of an ever-changing network of branches and spurs.” It’s in the “Abandoned” section, so I don’t think it’s “ever-changing” now, but perhaps was (a century ago?) when that characterization was attached to this abandoned rail.

See: these can be pretty fun! There IS some controversy about adding abandoned railroads to OSM: some feel these should not be added (I disagree) preferring that OpenHistoricalMap (OHM) is a better place.

I have no specific interest about adding such data to “Lake States” (though I’m originally from Michigan, I’m now firmly Californian), but I fully support the effort to do so. I encourage creating a wiki (can be done using the “state” wikis like Minnesota/Railroads) to guide and “keep track” (color-coded status tables are cool for “at a glance” progress reports, imo).

Good luck, have fun!


I have been using remotely sensed data- high resolution LiDAR derived elevation data available from the USGS to identify abandoned grades and cuts. There are many roads built over old railroad grades- often including “grade” in the road name, so that’s one clue. Many grades have also been converted to multiple use trails too. With more mapping, there may be the opportunity to repurpose more of these grades as trails. Often times there is a good opportunity to improve rural road mapping too using the LiDAR data- some of that’s rather sketchy GPS tracks due to heavy tree cover or hilly terrain. Older recreational grade GPS units that don’t have GNSS or GLONASS capability probably contributes as well. I am originally from Michigan and have been mapping extensively in the northern counties. I have volumes II and III of “In The Pines” by James S. Hannum in which is a bit help in pointing to an area with significant activity. Plowing and housing development has taken out much evidence, but there still is a lot to map. Even a few old main lines missing from the map to add too.

Shasta and Siskiyou County I believe you are referring to- I spent some time there and am familiar with that logging railroad too. There is LiDAR coverage of the Mt. Shasta area that includes some of those old grades, but again a lot of roads to muddle up the mapping.