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How do you know it's abandoned?

I used to walk the tracks all the time when I was a teenager. I didn't have a car, and the railroad tracks just happened to be the shortest path to where I needed to go. I could hear the trains coming from a long ways off, so I had plenty of time to get out of their way. Still, I couldn't help looking behind me every few minutes.

Stay out of the tunnels. They can be a hell of a lot longer than they appear, and once inside there's nowhere to go to escape a train. Me and my friends never ran so fast in our lives that day...
 

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Abandoned tracks can get really bad quickly. It is the bridges you really have to watch out for. As far as running a vehicle on old tracks you would need to have one that the tires line up exactly with the width of the tracks. YOu can deflate you tires just a bit and then you should be able to run on the tracks. Problem is you have to be able to reinflate your tires once you choose to get off. Go slow since the switches can be thrown and you will not know it till you get to the switch itself. I am speaking about siding cutoffs. We did it as kids and were lucky we did not get killed.
 

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The railroad uses trucks with retractable wheels that fit the tracks. They might come in handy if a person could needed to commandeer one some day. Just a thought.
I am like Ihatebugs in the fact as a teen we spent a lot of time on the RR tracks. Without a car it was the fastest way to get anywhere. Most tracks run behind houses and commercial buildings in the not so good parts of town so most folks don't pay much attention to someone walking on them.
There are not many tunnels around here but there are some pretty long bridges and you don't want to be on one with a train.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What I was getting at is traveling known abbandonned railroad lines by foot. I'm assuming that transportaion is going to be a major issue in the future. I was wanting to do some recon on lines now, but I was not sure if this was legal and if there were any property issues (do RR companies sell old lines to property owners?). Rivers can be dealt with. I'm just tryin to plan evacuation routes and such. Any help?
 

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One caution: if you make a practice run or find yourself using a RR right-of way in an emergency situation, try at all costs to avoid the railroad police. Sounds jokey, but they are a real law enforcement/security force and they DO patrol rail lines. They are Federal officers and take themselves VERY seriously. A couple of years ago, one of my surveying crews was working adjacent to (and occasionally on) an active line and were offered (none too cordially) the opportunity to instantly abandon their work or be arrested. Their authority trumps even State of Michigan surveyor access laws. (Or so they maintain. Who wants to argue with an armed thug with a bad attitude?) Any time I've come across other agents, their attitude has been similar. Strictly my own opinion, but these guys seem to exemplify the worst excesses in Law Enforcement and DHS. As far as I know, they have no authority where ROW's have been turned into rail-trails.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Are these RR police using rail cars to patrol? If so, the should be fairly easy to avoid. Do they patrol abbandoned lines?
 

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Most RR police use cars. And yes they are complete jerks, and have no qualms about beating the crap out of you to get their point across. As they are not official law enforcement, but rather a kind of private security, they don't have to follow the same laws as cops do.
 

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Are these RR police using rail cars to patrol? If so, the should be fairly easy to avoid. Do they patrol abbandoned lines?
The ones I've run into have been in cars. As I've been given to understand, "abandoned" and "unused" are not the same. The Right of Way is supposedly only abandoned if the RR removes rails and signs off their rights and (usually) turns the ROW over to a unit of Gov't., usually as a "linear park" or rail-trail. My understanding is that until officially abandoned, they have the right to patrol or inspect any RR lands. That's how they apply the law here in MI. YMMV.
 

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Abandoned tracks can get really bad quickly. It is the bridges you really have to watch out for. As far as running a vehicle on old tracks you would need to have one that the tires line up exactly with the width of the tracks. YOu can deflate you tires just a bit and then you should be able to run on the tracks. Problem is you have to be able to reinflate your tires once you choose to get off. Go slow since the switches can be thrown and you will not know it till you get to the switch itself. I am speaking about siding cutoffs. We did it as kids and were lucky we did not get killed.


you can NOT just deflate your tires and drive on train tracks!!!! maybe in a cartoon!!! people used to drive on tracks as a hobby and such in the 70's, you have to build special wheels to do it. like welded two wheels together and it all has to line up etc. so many peiople were doing it that of course some were running into trains so they made it highly illegal and it went away.
 

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Many homeless people wander the lines too. Some could be friendly, some may not be. I remember an episode on America's Most Wanted where a homeless guy was also a serial killer, hopping trains and walking the lines all the time. Be careful.
 

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Yall are right.RR police are mostly a bunch of a**holes.Me and some of my freinds have had runins with them back in the day.From what I was told they can arrest you and take you across state lines,etc.they are not to be messed with.
 
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Typically the area of a railroad track and 50 feet out from it is owned by the railroad company. I don't think any are abandoned. I would imagine as big as railroads are that they property is still owned by some railroad company. It's a good clearing to walk thru, but "you never hear the one that hits you." It's hard to keep a lookout for trains. It's also criminal trespass to use the tracks if someone really wanted to pursue it although few would.
 

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Funny you mention about a bike. When I was a kid we used to get a magazine called World, (if I remember correctly). They had a story about a family who had some type of adapter for there bikes that allowed it to ride on RR tracks. They would go to abandoned tracks and ride.

How I remember this I have no idea. I recall thinking it was cool.
 

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If a line is truly abandoned, the railroad takes up the rails and ties and turns over the property to some gov't or private entity. Do a web search for "Rails-to-trails" for info and maps of abandoned raillines used for linear parks and trails. If it isn't truly abandoned, it's RR Co. property and subect to control, and enforcement against tresspass, by the RR Police. But, yes. they are a great route to travel to see some interesting country. And I've seen plans for outriggers for bicycles to fit rails, using modified rims without tires.
 

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If I were trying to avoid detection, I would not use any kind of RR routes.

It's like they say in that fake documetary about Viet-Nam: Always stay off the paths!

HippieSurvivalist
 
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