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What could have been ... abandoned transportation infrastructure geekery


Dear Leader
Staff member
I'll come out of the closet, and admit it ... I'm fascinated by abanoned and partly-built transportation infrastructure. Cleared rights-of-way for Interstate highways that were never built, exit ramps that lead to nowhere, long-forgotten streetcar tracks poking up through the tarmac, and so on.

During grad school, I killed too many hours hunting down remnants of Buffalo's once-extensive interurban network. Rights-of-way are still there in many cases, and along one line the cantenary pole support bases are still embedded in the ground, stripped of their host structures in the late 1930s. One three-block long street in a lonely subdivision, with the grandiose name "Buffalo-Depew Boulevard," is all that remains of a once-busy rapid transit line that stretched from downtown Buffalo to the far eastern suburbs and beyond. Follow the dirt path beyond the short street, and you'll notice that all the railroad lines that cross it do so on sizeable bridges.

Sites like Forgotten NY, London Underground History ... can't get enough.


Count me in. I like looking for abandoned roads/rights-of-way along newer roads. I live along the old Lincoln Highway, and have begun showing my daughter how to spot the old road (a great hobby to take into her teenage years). There is also an abandoned PA Turnpike tunnel that I want to see.

It seems like the houses we buy include some form of abandoned right of way that I don't discover until I try to dig a hole. Currently I have an old streetcar ROW in front. It looks like lawn, but it is really a lot of grass growing through old macadam. Our previous house had an old road surface under a thin layer of soil. It consisted of a layer of sandstone cobble; an acquaintance at the highway dept tried to find an old map, but it wasn't in their office.


I love them as well. I call them "ghost roads" and got turned on to them when I came across one running along I-70 in eastern Utah, complete with mileposts and a small ghost town. Now I look for them everywhere, though tend to see them mostly out west. Some are little more than traces now, cutting through country that is reclaiming them. Others were merely abandoned where a new road was built alongside. It is a great way to pass the time on a long drive, just to watch as they snake over and around hills and rivers, where the new road is a flat, straight line. Perhaps they were slower, but they must have been more fun to drive. In cities I can find traces - "Old Rand Road" or "Old McHenry Road", where the four-lane took another route.

There is a railway that was started in Whitewater in the 1800's. It was never completed, but the traces remain. A street has been built on part. In other places, it has created oddly diagonal property lines in an otherwise, mostly grid system. Eventually, it could become part of a path system.

At the north end of the city: