From the June 2006 Conservationist
By Robin Dropkin and Philip DeRita
In the mid 1800s, when waterways were the most popular and practical form of transportation, business tycoons such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie pioneered a revolutionary form of commerce and travel---the railroad. By the turn of the century, the locomotive had surpassed the boat as America's major mode of transportation. The railroad was the backbone of a thriving and expanding America, with almost 300,000 miles of tracks linking all corners of the United States. The New York Central System was easily the largest railroad in the country, with 10,000 miles of rails crisscrossing the Empire State.
With the advent of automobile and air travel, the economic viability of the mighty ironhorse declined, leaving thousands of miles of abandoned rail corridors. These old rail lines, as well as earlier transportation systems, are now being resurrected...