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Thread: Railroad trespassing

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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Railroad trespassing

    I was doing an Operation Lifesaver presentation today for new ATV operators, and heard about a cache that is "right in the middle of a railroad track." After reading one thread on this forum about crossing a track/walking on railroad property, I thought I should chime in with some information. I've been a volunteer presenter with Maine Operation Lifesaver for several years now, and have worked as a railroad employee for a little longer than that. Operation Lifesaver has chapters in every state except Hawaii. Canada and other countries also have OL organizations. OL works with railroads, government agencies, and other interested parties to help prevent highway/rail crossing collisions. Also of great concern to us is the fact that around 500 people are killed each year while trespassing on railroad property. Another 200+ were injured each year during 2003, 2004, and 2005. The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis maintains extensive records, and a review of their Website shows that the casualties are not just kids: the 21-25 age group and the 41-45 age group had the most deaths and injuries (306 each) for that three-year period.
    One of the first things a new railroad employee is taught is to expect a train on any track, at any time, in any direction. Another important lesson is that trains can overhang the track by three feet, and broken strapping (metal bands) or possibly a shifted load can "reach out and touch someone" in a very unpleasant way at an even greater distance.
    The new Continuous Welded Rail (CWR, or "ribbon rail") being used more and more has eliminated the "clickety-clack" of train wheels passing over joints in the rail. A heavy freight train or a fast passenger train can take a mile to come to a full stop. The train can't steer around you, and you may not have a safe place to go to in order to get out of its path. The best way to avoid a sudden unpleasant encounter with a train is to just "don't go there" where you could be in harm's way.
    The discussion in the other thread included some questions about fines for trespassing. I'll just refer you to MRSA Title 23, §7007. http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statu...23sec7007.html
    (Remember, sometimes the penalty for trespassing on railroad property is death.)
    I know someone's saying, "What about this old track that they don't use anymore?" Are you sure it's not being used? The "Lewiston Lower" is being rebuilt right now, for eventual resumption of service. Maine ATV and snowmobile regulations say a person "may operate within the right-of-way of a portion of railroad line that has been officially abandoned under the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission." I don't know how you could be certain of an abandonment enough to maybe stake your life on it, especially since there's no longer an Interstate Commerce Commission.
    Railroad trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in the U.S.
    Enjoy geocaching and other outdoor activities, but please, "Stay Off! Stay Away! Stay Alive!"
    Thanks.

    --
    Doug Clark

  2. #2
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    One of my caches is close to a railroad line that was not being used in previous years, but it now appears as though it will be doing some excursion trips this year. Even before this thread appeared I was planning on moving it due to this new development . . . although personally it wouldn't break my heart if the train company just folded up and sold the line to the State of Maine -- I suspect a multi-purpose rail trail would get a heckuva lot more use than it will as a train line for railroad buffs.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    New caches are approved before they can be made public and it is geocaching.com's policy not to allow caches on RR property.

    I have yet to hear about any Maine cache that is in the middle of any tracks with the exception of one or two near old narrow-guage tracks. Some caches are near active tracks, however. I have one within 15 feet or so of active tracks, but it is perfectly safe and legal.

    However, an occasional cache will make it through the approval process. If you could refer us to the cache name, ID, or general location, it can be checked on and, if neccessary, moved or archived.

  4. #4
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    I think that one cache that might need to be reconsidered is the Burnham Junction cache.

    This involves an interesting walk across a railroad trestle - the one where Hiram dropped his GPSr.

    I read recently that excursion train service between Unity and Burnham will start on Father's Day. And the trains will undoubtedly go across this trestle.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Burnham, Maine
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhereRWe?
    I think that one cache that might need to be reconsidered is the Burnham Junction cache.

    This involves an interesting walk across a railroad trestle - the one Hiram dropped in GPSr off of.

    I read recently that excursion train service between Unity and Burnham will start on Father's Day. And the trains will undoubtedly go across this trestle.
    Rather than archive this cache maybe all that needs to be done is re-direct cachers from another direction. It can be approached from the Troy Road near the Burnham Elementary School, however, you'd still have to cross over the tracks but it would be better than getting stuck on the trestle. Another idea would be to place this cache near the cache owners store near Rt. 100 to make it more accessible and still offer folks a good view of the trestle. Just an idea..........
    What if the Hokey Pokey is what its all about?
    Have Fun & Be Safe!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty & Co.
    Rather than archive this cache maybe all that needs to be done is re-direct cachers from another direction. It can be approached from the Troy Road near the Burnham Elementary School, however, you'd still have to cross over the tracks but it would be better than getting stuck on the trestle. Another idea would be to place this cache near the cache owners store near Rt. 100 to make it more accessible and still offer folks a good view of the trestle. Just an idea..........
    Well, maybe they could just make it a "difficulty 5" on days the train is due?


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by brdad
    New caches are approved before they can be made public and it is geocaching.com's policy not to allow caches on RR property.
    I figured there was probably a general policy like that, but maybe something had slipped through, or perhaps a formerly inactive railroad line was being used once again.

    However, an occasional cache will make it through the approval process. If you could refer us to the cache name, ID, or general location, it can be checked on and, if neccessary, moved or archived.
    I thought it was somewhere in the Brunswick area, and directed visitors to an old trolley grade. I looked at some topo maps on the UNH site last night, and didn't see a trolley line on any of them in the Brunswick area. (Maybe it's actually an old spur off of the rail line.)
    The person who mentioned it to me hadn't yet logged his find of it, but said he'd point out to somebody that it might want relocating. I think he also said that the particular area is only accessible via the track.

    Some days, having minimal information is worse than having none at all, right?

    --
    Doug C.

  8. #8
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    The first cache that came to mind when you mentioned Brunswick and trolley was Trolly Line (GC9F97) by Kristomeg (2/4). This cache can be accessed without walking on the active RR lines. Some people have not, myself included. But I walked clear of the tracks and when I came to what looked like too dangerous a spot, I opted to bushwhack instead. The cache is nowhere near the active tracks, but are not too far from the old trolley bed.

    Other Maine caches which mention trolly or trolley:
    The Jolly Trolley (GCG5PH) by Montana East (1.5/2)
    Trestle Trove (GCMD52) by Two Reprobates (2/2)

    And Maine caches which mention tracks within 25 miles of Brunswick:
    Rubiks Revenge (GCQD0X) by robt (4/2)
    Wildes Road Wildlife management area (GCH31H) by keagriver (2/2)
    Take a walk on the wild side..... (GCV5MG) by Team Teebow (2.5/2.5)
    I've Been Caching on the Rail Road (GCV2T1) by MaineRebel and GreenGoddess (3/3)
    Railroad Ramble (GCHFBQ) by IntotheWoods (2/3)
    Downtown L/A III - Railroad Park (GCQYEZ) by Gob-ler (5/1)
    Benedict's Campground (GCGHHV) by T-Fam (2/3)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by brdad
    The first cache that came to mind when you mentioned Brunswick and trolley was Trolly Line (GC9F97) by Kristomeg (2/4). This cache can be accessed without walking on the active RR lines. Some people have not, myself included. But I walked clear of the tracks and when I came to what looked like too dangerous a spot, I opted to bushwhack instead. The cache is nowhere near the active tracks, but are not too far from the old trolley bed.
    Okay, that's in Bath. It looks like it might be off the right-of-way, but I'm still trying to find out what the state law defines the RoW as. I saw something on the Revisor of Statutes site or another state source that said 100' either side of a rail, but that might be for fire control purposes.

    Other Maine caches which mention trolly or trolley:
    The Jolly Trolley (GCG5PH) by Montana East (1.5/2)
    Yep. somebody'd really have to work at it to wander on the track for that one.
    Trestle Trove (GCMD52) by Two Reprobates (2/2)
    Likewise. Actually, more so.

    {Snipped others from reply, but will scope them out later.)
    I'm finding out from a contact at DOT if the one around Lisbon is on the stretch that's actually "abandoned." I just want to be 100% sure it's not on the part that's presently being rebuilt for freight traffic.
    There's another up Waldo County way that directs seekers to an old trestle. I'm also finding out if that one is or isn't "abandoned." I have a feeling it's been "disused," but is going be active again very soon.
    Thanks very much for the input.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrainHunter
    There's another up Waldo County way that directs seekers to an old trestle. I'm also finding out if that one is or isn't "abandoned." I have a feeling it's been "disused," but is going be active again very soon.
    This was mentioned already by WhereRWe in an earlier post . . . the railroad "line" was not in use last year and in previous years ran sporadically as it was a tourist train. This year a non-profit group of railroad buffs are hoping to get it up and running again as a tourist train. As a result (as I've mentioned earlier) I'll be moving one of my caches just a few feet so folks won't have to cross the tracks since I suspect there won't be many runs (but all it takes is one person to trip and fall on that one time when the train is barreling down the track at a blistering 6 mph ).
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

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