About the New Hampshire Railroad Map
The map of New Hampshire railroads is intended to depict the railroad
system in New Hampshire at its fullest extent. Within the boundaries of
New Hampshire all common carrier railroads should be shown though in a
few cases parallel tracks may not show as two distinct lines. Logging
railroads are shown where it has been possible to locate them from old U.S.
Geological Survey maps. Unfortunately many logging railroads only existed
for periods of time that were shorter than the USGS's revision cycle and
thus were never documented by the USGS. No interurban or street car lines
How the map was created
The map was created using data from the U.S. Geological Survey
(ftp://edcftp.cr.usgs.gov/) as a starting point. This data is NOT in the
form of images but instead in the form of line plots. This data comes as
as separate files for railroads, roads and trails, hydrography, hypsography
(topography) and miscellaneous transportation features. Most of the data
is from the 1980s so includes about as many railroads as it is missing, as
abandoned railroads are only infrequently shown. To put together the
abandoned railroad lines a number of different steps were taken:
This process has worked quite well but anyone who knows the rail network
well will immediately notice that there are lots of missing pieces in the
areas outside of New Hampshire. The process is rather tedious so we have
not gotten there. Outside of New Hampshire the concentration was on
showing lines that connect to New Hampshire but we still have a few lines
to locate. Three are noteable:
- Where abandoned railroads are clearly marked in the Roads and Trails
layer, as trails these were copied to the railroad layer.
- Scanned images of old USGS maps were collected from a number of
libaries across the state. Some of these date back to the 1890s and we
hope to get these images up on the net at some point.
- A java program was created that will display a scanned image and
plot a layer from one of the current maps on top of the image. By doing
this it was possible to locate railroad right of ways that have been
converted to roads. These were then added to the railroads layer.
- In some cases the current maps show no trace of a railroad. When the
old maps do show such a rail line these were "traced" using more Java
- The Fitchburg branch from Ayer, through Brookline to Milford. Most of
it is shown but not the very southern end. The USGS Groton quadrangle
covers this area and the earliest revision of this map that has been located
is from 1893. The line was built in 1895 so it is not shown. The next
revision that has been found, was in 1936, after the branch was abandoned.
For some reason the USGS did not include any trace of the line south of the
New Hampshire border in this revision of the map. Current USGS maps do show
the abandoned right of way in some locations but the southern most part
where it connected with the Peterborough and Shirley (Greenville branch)
is not shown so we don't know exactly where it went.
- The Portland and Rochester, has a gap in the area covered by the
Buxton, Maine quadrangle. Hopefully a copy of this map will be found soon
and this piece can be filled in.
- Upper Coos Railroad (Maine Central) north of the 45th parallel was
mostly in Quebec. The USGS maps don't show any of Canada and equivalent
Canadian maps have not been located.
The ownership of the railroad lines is based on a map issued by the New
Hampshire Railroad commission in 1894. The one exception to this is the
Eastern Railroad is shown as a separate company.