Map Tech

The railroad route maps on this site were created with Google Earth, combined with on-site research, historical map research and other source materials such as topographical survey maps.

Hooppole, Yorktown & Tampico

The Hooppole, Yorktown and Tampico route was drawn based upon information located on the Tampico Historical Society’s web site, here.  It is assumed that the map is generally accurate, probably created by someone who was familiar with the railroad’s operations and local geography.  Using the information from that map, a route was created on Google Earth and coordinated with evidence found in the images. That is, sometime you can’t see something at ground level which can be seen from a satellite.  Consider the faint line indicated by the arrows:

This section of the route is between Yorktown and Aliceville.  Since it is known that the railroad ran between these two points, it became a matter of looking for straight lines which would suggest the railroad’s former right of way. In other cases, the comparison between the satellite view and the Tampico Historical web site map:

Galesburg & Great Eastern

As with the HY&T, the general route of the G&GE was also known.  There are also physical structures in several locations such as the station structure at Victoria, the grade crossing at Wataga and others. Likewise, the topographical maps were sometimes helpful; consider this map, which is dated from the 1970’s, about ten years after the G&GE was abandoned:

This map clearly identifies “Old RR Grade”, as well as identifying Illinois State Route 167, which runs from Wataga to Victoria. This image is taken from a map which includes Wataga, and the location of the roadbed can be inferred from the Google Earth image:

Again, note the distinctive curve, which corresponds to the curvature of the topo map.  Also note the line of trees in the left middle of the photo, which curve along the old right of way, leading to the existing rail siding which once was the G&GE’s connection to the Burlington (now BNSF).

Locating Tools

There are a number of web sites which have locating data, such as  These sites can give you the specific location of a prominent object such as a mine or geographic location such as a mountain range.  Google Earth’s locating search tools are very good.  You can enter a latitude / longitude pair into Google Earth and it will take you there.  Once there, you can use the Placemark function to identify a particular feature for later use.

Google Earth also has tools for creating “Paths”, which was used to identify the railroad rights of way on the maps used on this site.  The Placemark and Path functions also allow for color changes and other means of making a unique mark on the maps.

Google Earth also has a measurement tool, which can be used to determine a location based upon other measurement data (such as “The station was three miles away....”. This helps get you into the ballpark for locating structures which are no longer present.

Using the Images

Once the images were created with Google Earth, they were copied to Windows Paint and adjusted to fit onto the web pages.

Full details of the use of Google Earth images are located here.


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