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Another "not Found"

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In spite of not finding the thing, I actually had a very nice time looking for NB0928 (comments in log). It did just hit me that my success rate on marks near RR tracks is absolutely dismal, in spite of far more effort than other marks. Do others find this to be the case, or am I just unlucky when near rails?

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It depends on the railroad. There's one abandoned line that I explored that still had most of the marks (7 out of 9), but there have been other ones that have very few marks suviving. For what it's worth, the lines that haven't been officially turned into rail trails seemed to have more surviving marks. A couple of rights of way now serve as gas pipeline rights of way, and the old culverts (with their bench marks) seemed to be the first victims of demolition when the gas pipeline was put in. The bridges generally survived.


I walked a 16-mile length of rail trail this past summer and found only 3 surviving marks out of 17 on record.

Edited by holograph
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I agree that it depends on the railroad. The old Reading Railroad marks near me are fairly intact. Many were set on bridges and those bridges haven't been replaced. Others were set in rock outcrops, and while some were covered by ballast over the years (the railroad seems to have cleaned the ballast at some point and instead of collecting the excess, dumped it along the south side of the roadbed. This means a lot of marks were covered, but most likely still there. Since many of the references have disappeared, most notably the "fractional mileposts" these marks are extremely difficult to find. Probing results in the same problem you had--since the soil if full of rocks it is difficult to probe deeply or to tell what is a stone and what is a rock outcrop. I have dug out hundreds of pounds of ballast looking for marks along this railbed, some successul, some in vain.


The old PRR is pretty good in my area (now Amtrak and Norfolk Southern). Not much has changed most places, so the marks remain. The issue with these is that they are on operating railroads. Amtrak trains often go 80+ mph in my area, so extreme caution is indicated (they are infrequent, but quiet). NS has the meanest railroad police in the US. I am more afraid of them than I am the passenger trains!


Abandoned and unused railbeds have produced good results. Nobody has bothered them in years so the marks often remain. The trouble is in finding them, again because identifying features are gone. My favorite was along the NYO&W in New York state. The roadbed was so totally overgrown that it didn't even look like it had ever been railroad!


Rail trails around me are the worst offenders! Many marks on our old railroads were set near roads, and those are the areas made into parking lots most often. At one location huge stone blocks have been placed between the parking area and the trail, precisely where I think the mark would have been. I don't know the reason for the blocks. Maybe the contractor had them left over from another job and wanted to ditch them. They add nothing to the site, and aren't there to stop cars from entering the trail. Sad that they preserve the trail but destroy the survey marks.


Haven't found any gas lines on railbeds in my area. Did find a power line on one.

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While I haven't had the greatest luck on railways, my worst failure rate is in the former industrial areas of north Jersey. The north Hudson waterfront is a prime example. Formerly factories with chimneys and water towers, it's all being transformed into condo complexes! Two for five yesterday. Found two disks, DNFed one disk, a water tower and a chimney. Okay, so I knew the water tower and chimney were long gone. :o (Google Earth is great for determining if these non-disk stations are missing.)

I could make a career of looking for missing chimneys, water tanks, and tanks!

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Thanks all! If I have time today, I want to go a bit further down the rail line and check out K54 (NB0929). Not much hope for it, as many have looked before, but what the heck.


Two questions-


Why does this one have so many location measurements- seems like the distance from the intersection and the rail would be sufficient? What do they mean by "70 feet northwest of west river stop"? That doesn't make a lot of sense based on the other info and the layout of the area.


Do you think the earlier 1934 RR monuments were smaller and more fragile than the later 1942 monuments that are scattered all around here? They're typically a foot square and very robust. If the 1934 monuments were smaller diameter posts, I can understand why they'd be easily broken off.

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In regards to measurements, the more the merrier. This one probably has a lot because there were more definitive things to measure from.


What a "river stop" is stumps me. My guess is that it was a sign for the train to stop at prior to the bridge (if it had to stop), so that the weight of a stopped train would not be on the bridge for a protracted amount of time. Alternately, it could be a sign for railroad employees that clearances were tight and to stop at that spot. Or anything else! I am a railfan and have never heard of a river stop. If the tracks are gone it is most likely gone too.


As for not being recovered multiple times, to me only the 1957 one holds much weight. Depending on who you have doing Power Squadron recoveries in your area, those may have been anything from full professional searches to drive bys.


One question I would ask is what the 75 feet south of the bridge crossing means. Looking at the topo map and reading the other directions I am thinking it might be the crossing of the ROAD over the river, as that is the direction the road bridge would lie. I don't want to get into another discussion of railroad directions versus real people directions, but will mention that even if the railroad is going N-S at this point in "railroad parlance", the measurements to the river stop and nearest rail seem to be actual directions. I wouldn't rule either bridge out, but my first go would be the road bridge.


Remember that just because a mark was not found doesn't mean it isn't there. Many of us have examples of marks we found that didn't exist. In fact, we tend to rank them according to how long they went as Not Founds, and who did the "Not Finding". If it was an official agency--NGS, CGS, USGS, etc., we give ourselves extra credit. I have a couple of these--my most recent was KW0765, last reported as Not Found by the USGS in 1954.

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Do you think the earlier 1934 RR monuments were smaller and more fragile than the later 1942 monuments


The 1934 marks were precast concrete, 8-in at top and 12-in at base, 5 ft long.


Here is some info on how the set them back in those days.




later years sq one of the 40's appear precast but I have not seen any of them uprooted from the ground as I have seen 1934 ere C&GS posts. 1948 round mark are poured in place and some of them are not very good. I have found that are uprooted and barely are 2-3 ft long. Seems if the digging got hard, they gave up.

Edited by Z15
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Z15, I forgot about the monument part of his posts. Around here there are hundreds of 1942 benchmarks and all of them are set in the precast posts, and they are very susceptible to breaking. I am pretty sure that I have marked over 5 of these as destroyed.


KW1012 is an example.

KW1231 shows a cast in place post from 1966. Much harder to destroy (although this one definitely was).

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As a Rule, One should be really careful on Railroad Right Of Ways, Blah, Blah, Blah, Yadda, Yadda...


Either no one "gets it" or cares...


Beyond that, There are no rules you can live by on this stuff, Some railroads are abandoned, some aren't and all maintained different. Further, I have noticed different practices in different regions from when they were set in the first place.


There are a lot of things we accumulate in learning to find these. Just take it all in and use what you know. If you didn't find it after a reasonably diligent search, It probably isn't there. Go look for a different one.


Oh and remember Yadda Yadda too... Railroad Cops love it when you forget these days.



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This particular railroad is abandoned to the point of it being hard to tell there was a railroad there. The main problem with Photobuff's search is that nothing is left to measure from.


As for me, I like to live on the edge! Just kidding. Although I do go onto railroad rights of way I take great care when I do. I am familiar enough with railroads and railroad practice to know how to handle myself. I do NOT condone the behavior though and know my risks when I choose to do it. I have mentioned before that I am much more afraid of the railroad police than I am of the trains.

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Am Playing Nice Max, Said nothing Inappropriate. Even meant it in a good natured way. If you want to advocate that Geocachers Illegally enter Railroad Rights Of Way when you know it is dangerous and illegal, be my Guest. I would have thought an official Moderator would caution Players away from Danger and Trespassing. But Instead you caution us to play nice for speaking of this?




I figure You are just Laying For Me Max. Looking for a reason to School Me. Again. Looks like I am probably right. That last time you gave me a week off sure showed me... I'll be a good boy!


Now, Please envision me looking over the tops of my sunglasses at you Max. Because I am. (Nicely) Please Don't allow your personality differences with me and dislike for me affect the way you do your Job, Max. I am playing by the rules and I expect you to moderate by them. So far there is nothing we needed a moderator for here. From the outside looking in you have a problem and are taking this way to serious. It should be fun and not a job. Remember?


Most people say Yadda Yadda as a Joke, Is this serious where you live??


Your Presence around here pretty much settles that. A few of us here know you have an over-spirited interest in us.


Relax. We are having Fun. Well were having fun. Matt and I know... We the trouble causers. We know you are the Sheriff around here. Your Bosses know my opinion of that too.


I am just saying that there is nothing I say that you need to moderate. Nothing has been said in or out of context that requires your Moderation. Never has been, not really. Trust Me, If I want to pull the trigger on Nasty, I wont do it here. Not because of you or rules but because of my respect for others here. But you and I differ on the need to Moderate, Don't we Max? Since I am nearly the only one you ever have publicly tried to direct in the history of this Forum. You have your Pets, I understand. I am in compliance with the rules and don't need a reminder. Please don't ruin the fun for me, and a few of your other favorites, Ok?


Oh, I liked the UNK1 Moniker. Glad they could help out.


Merry Christmas Max, Oh, Happy New year too.



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WOW, evenfall how did you get all that from “”play nice, don't make me stop the car”” to everyone in the thread


Am not laying for you, do not have any pets, and did not attack you.


But you did attack a Moderator, from the guidelines: Personal Attacks and Flames will not be tolerated. If you want to praise or criticize, give examples as to why it is good or bad, general attacks on a person or idea will not be tolerated.


Now the bad ole moderator will give you a few more days off.


Finally, if you or anyone believes that the I have acted inappropriately, PLEASE send an e-mail with complete details, to Groundspeak’s special address for this purpose: appeals@geocaching.com. A moderator can be removed, and replaced


Max Cacher

Geocaching.com Volunteer Cache Reviewer // Moderator

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Back to the original issue:


That mark you have been looking for is shown on the topo map for this area. I did some computer "scaling" of my own, and I came up with potential coordinates to check out if you are in the area, again:



42 41.094

77 17.376



42 41 05.64

77 17 22.56


When I overlaid the topo coordinates on an aerial photo, I came to the conclusion that the dirt road was somewhat south of the current paved highway. Meanwhile, I share your experience and the experiences of others about looking for marks along rail lines. Old marks often were elevated ("projected"), and thus were subject to damage. Newer ones are "flush", and are buried with each new load of gravel.


As for the effectiveness of a metal detector.....well, let's just say the train folks sure leave a lot of iron strewn up and down the track! :D




P.S. Off topic, but curious. Looking at the streams flowing toward the track from both east and west, and noting how close together the contour lines are, it appears that there might be a couple of waterfalls nearby. Is this correct?

Edited by PFF
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Hey guys, I know full well about RR RofWays, but appreciate the caution. Most of our RRs around here were torn up years ago, and if you can find the rail beds, you're doing well. We have a group, Ontario Pathways, that's trying to turn them into hiking trails. They do a very nice job, and don't seem to mess anything up. As for RR coppers, when you don't have much for working RRs, you don't have much need to police them. I'm sure they exist, but have never seen one. OTOH, one of the DEC (forest ranger) people drove by, saw me with my tape measure, and stopped to see what was up. He sort of guarded what he said until he figured out I wasn't a threat (I have arthritis in most joints and bad knees, so can't run very fast or very far :D ), then asked me about geocaching and the like. I could also tell he knew quite a lot about benchmarks, but he didn't have any clues as to the location of the one I was looking for.


I didn't have time today to get back to that one, but tried another here in town- another stupid 1935 RR benchmark. Not found- details at NB0858. Yes, I was pushing the envelope a bit, as this is a working rail line, yet with a hiking trail right next to it (5-10 feet) where they took up a set of tracks. In 1935 there were 5 sets of tracks in the same spot, so no telling which was the "main line" to measure from.


It seems there's a bit of history with some of you, and IMO moderation is best handled by email and out of public view. Nothing was said in the initial posts that bothered me in the least, and I really need for everybody to stick around and educate me on this stuff. I offer you all a virtual Riesling (or a beer), and an invitation to start the new year with a clean slate.

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Paul, I'll certainly investigate that possibility. I've always considered roadways to be pretty stable, as moving the centerlines would mess up property lines. There are a few nearby where they did straighten them out and shift the position, but this one is so rural, I'd be surprised. You're quite right about the terrain. Just up the road is the HiTor wildlife and recreation area. It's a spectacular gully, that you can hike up using the stream bed, or the much steeper trail nearby. It ends in high shale cliffs, and a couple waterfalls. We have several similar areas like that around Naples NY. If I can find it, I'll post a photo. With caution, I can hike these, but I have to plan each step carefully, as one slip could establish my "final benchmark".


Ah, here 'tis, Grimes Glen, just a few miles away in Naples:



Edited by Photobuff
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I guess a problem with some abandoned railroad lines is when all metal, cement, and structures are removed so that a hiking or biking trail can be made and metal recycled. It's likely that any benchmarks will be taken up in the process as well.


Very nice waterfall pic, Photobuff! :D By the way, the Waymarking Waterfalls category has started, and clicking on "View Category Gallery" shows the first waterfalls waymarked.

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I can recall when they removed a lot of RR's around here. They used heavy equipment to dig out the rr ties, and made a mess in some locations, placed the rails off to the sides for later pickup once grade was capable of allowing larger trucks in. They graded the areas level and if the mark was above ground it was easily hit and destoyed or buried. It was not done by the RR but by a salvage company that had won the bid to dismantle it. I recall I was told by the crew foreman the rails were bought by a company in Japan were to be shipped there Recycled I guess.


Often they get buried also. In my 30+ yrs as a Survey Tech we found some buried up to 2+ft but those were mostly along current lines in which the grade had been built up over the years. Lots of time if not for finding the BM buried, there was little indication the RR grade had been raised.


Back around 2000 I searched a stretch of RR around Marquette that were to be dismantled. The RR has sent a notice to NGS about it but our state advisor could get up here to look at it and asked if one of us had the time to go and put in witness posts to protech them. I was sent out to do that, spent about 3-4 days searching, found many but not all.

Edited by Z15
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I know there is a common perception that railbeds get raised over time, but that isn't necessarily the case. The clearances on railroads are usually very tight and great effort is taken not to move the tracks in any direction most of the time. If a railbed is raised then all overhead clearances will have to be confirmed. Ballast is rarely added to the tracks. It is normally cleaned by an enormous machine that pulls out the rock ballast, screens it, and returns it to where it was without affecting the track (or so the manufacturers' web sites claim). The detritus is conveyed to a hopper car or dumped to the side (as was done in my area, hiding a number of benchmarks).

If anyone wants to see one of these beasts take a look at

Loram Ballast Cleaner or Kershaw Ballast Cleaner or even Ballast cleaner at work.

From Harrisburg to Allentown the tracks were actually lowered at places to accomodate double stack containers. This happened where it wasn't economical to raise overpasses.


I am not saying that railroads never raised their track. I am sure it has happened, both intentionally and otherwise. But in general they would have been much more comfortable knowing their rails were the same height as always so their trains would fit under bridges.


Edit: Rrail removal can be as invasive as the removal contractor wants it to be. See this link for the use of heavy equipment for removal. For a series of pictures of rail being removed see ICG rail removal through ICG rail removal. Change the letter in Edit, rail removal can be as invasive as the removal contractor wants it to be. See this link for the use of heavy equipment for removal. For a series of pictures of rail being removed see ICG rail removal through [url=Edit, rail removal can be as invasive as the removal contractor wants it to be. See this link for the use of heavy equipment for removal. For a series of pictures of rail being removed see ICG rail removal through ICG rail removal]ICG rail removal last page[/url]. For the inbetween pages change 1a to 1b, 1c, 1d, and 1e. Note that in some cases little is distrubed, but in others it is easy to picture any benchmarks near the rail being totally destroyed by the equipment and process.

Edited by mloser
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The waterfall picture is awesome! I get up to Binghamton every five years or so. I can tell I need to do some exploring, in addition to sitting around and visiting with my relatives!


NB0858 is an interesting situation. Like the other mark you searched for, it is shown on topo maps. Unlike the other situation, the road placement appears to be stable. Sixty yards west of the intersection should be pretty close to what it was decades ago.


I used two versions of the topo map to predict the approximate coordinates of the mark.


MAP 1:

N42 35.652

W77 15.984


MAP 2:

N42 35.658

W77 15.990


Use your GPS receiver to stand on these two spots. If you don't see the mark at either, you gave it your best shot! As for safety, I'm hoping the white line along the western edge of the tracks (visible in aerial photos) is the walking trail. If so, the benchmark should be near the trail.



Edited by PFF
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Paul- I had to visit a friend beyond the previous mark you suggested coordinates for. I didn't have time to stop, but did look for any evidence that the road has moved. I could go with an argument that it's moved maybe a half to one lane, but that's not a good thing- it puts the mark under the pavement! When I did my search, I did run the detector down both sides of the rail position, including over the road and a good ways beyond. No hits at all. I have to believe it's gone, and based on what I've seen of rail removal around here, so are the rest of 'em. Never one to give up, I will try your suggestions on NB0858, though I don't hold out much hope for it. IMO, it's on the wrong side of the tracks from the trail, unless we're dealing with the special RR compass points from Mars. It shouldn't be too difficult to avoid the two trains per week...


I did some recon on benchmarks near my friends house, near Prattsburgh NY. They still have too much snow and mud to accomplish anything, but I hold out more hope for those. The locations are vague and what was farmland became woods, was logged, and is now new growth pine, but you never know. There's also one out there from 1889 that I'm hoping to get permission to see. It's in somebodies backyard.


The photo required setting up the tripod in the middle of the stream, and holding it down so it wouldn't vibrate from the rushing water during the time exposure. One of my better efforts.


Thanks for taking such a close look at these various marks for me. Once I exhaust the obvious locations, my speculation on other possibilities isn't yet well developed.

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It did just hit me that my success rate on marks near RR tracks is absolutely dismal, in spite of far more effort than other marks. Do others find this to be the case, or am I just unlucky when near rails?

Getting back to the original post, I've had sufficient ill luck with RR benchmarks to turn me off of them. Unless they're immediately accessable from public lands, I won't bother. I refuse to cross fences, walk along active track, or dig in ballast. A) It amounts to trespassing, and :o it's not fun.


So, if I determine that there's a RR benchmark in the signal base where the tracks cross Main Street, that's cool. But if I have to scramble down a gulley, climb a fence, walk half a mile along the tracks to a bridge headwall across the river and dig through 3 feet of ballast, I'll pass, thanks.



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Red_Cedars -


That's pretty much my standards as well. If a PID is within a 5 second walk from a road crossing in a very quiet rural area, I might make a quick shot at it. Very often though, a BM is waaaay down the tracks, far from any road, and on seeing that, I will shrug and click on the next PID in a list.


Once many years ago, I was almost hit by a train at a crossing. I was just leaving a gas station in my car, looking right and left at the traffic on a busy highway waiting for my chance to jump into the traffic. I kept hearing a train blowing its horn somewhere nearby. I finally looked further to the right almost behind me to see the train engine coming down the track less than 100 feet away. The tracks were about 10 feet in front of my car!

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Seems like a perfectly reasonable standard, especially given the success rate. As I've mentioned, most of what you see on the topo maps around here as "rail", was torn up long ago. The area used to have a thriving manufacturing economy, but that's been dying for many years. High tech is doing ok, but overall the area will never be what it was in the '60s. The line I was talking about earlier has a hiking trail right next to it, with some railroad history on one of the signs. They had five lines servicing a single factory. Today that building is vacant, and all the tracks, save one line, have been torn up. According to the sign, that line runs two trains a week. We have a few rail lines with regular high speed traffic, but not close to me. Thus, access to benchmarks near road crossings is little problem, but all the rail removal seems to have left very few, if any.

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My stand on it is that some of those railroad marks are the most desirable because they are so difficult to reach. But on an active line I will NOT walk along the tracks for any distance. I have to have public access within 50 feet or so of the mark and be able to get on and get off instantly. If I hear or see a train, I am quickly standing on public property by the tracks waving at the engineer. I don't want any rail employees to be nervous, either just seeing someone on the tracks, or enough to call the police to alert them.


Because of its inaccessibility, KW0848 may remain not found by me for quite some time. It is 100 yards into a deep rock cut, and across two mainline tracks. I guess I could learn to rappel and climb down the cliff James Bond style. Not likely. I am working on getting some sort of permission/escort to look for a number of these marks but have had no real success so far.


One thing to consider when recovering, or choosing not to recover, these marks, is that it is just as hard for a survey crew to get access to them as it is for you. That means they are unlikely to use them, so your recovery might mean very little. I can't picture Norfolk Southern stopping all traffic on the westbound line while a survey crew set up and tied to KW0848. I would imagine that in the 1960s that mark could have been used while the tracks were active (for one thing, the Reading Railroad ran 10-12 trains a day vs NS's 50), but even on active rails safety was a bit more loose.

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