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I researched the old historic route of vicinal railways in Belgium. Examples are,, Is such data usefull for OSM, or does OSM only work for the present? Other examples are the front lines in the first world war, or the old roman road network. What is the policy in OSM for the fourth dimension? Time

If it is wanted I can learn how to upload historic data, but I dont want to go to all the trouble if it is refused.

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asked 12 Aug '10, 19:54

smiley%20toerist's gravatar image

smiley toerist
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edited 07 Jun '11, 11:52

Andrew%20Chadwick's gravatar image

Andrew Chadwick

This would be ideal for the OpenHistoricalMap, see (website down atm)

If you want to push OHM, help would be appreciated!

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answered 23 Jan '14, 12:04

species's gravatar image

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answered 07 Jan '11, 15:51

Kartograefin's gravatar image

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I think your right but I also see enough room for a another OSM related project which could focus on the "4th dimension" or historical maps.

(23 Jan '14, 12:00) Ogmios

OSM is about tagging what is, not so much about what was. But some features that was is still.

Old abandoned railways can still have the sleepers and the tracks laying in disrepair. This can be tagged with railway=disused, or if the sleepers and track has been removed it can be tagged as railway=abandoned and an appropriate highway=* tag if it is used as such.

As to WWI front lines and old roman roads they can and should be mapped as they are now. For example many forts and ditches are still present from WWI. And some old roman ways still exists today.

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answered 12 Aug '10, 21:58

Gnonthgol's gravatar image

Gnonthgol ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 05 Oct '11, 09:38


Yes: railway=abandoned includes railways for which no trace remains, as well as those that are now trails or otherwise visible. One could similarly use highway=abandoned.

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answered 12 Aug '10, 20:54

NE2's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%


railway=abandoned does not signify that is WAS a railway, it signifies that it IS an abandoned railway. IE, it could be a good place to go for a walk etc.

(13 Aug '10, 22:27) Thingomy

Nope. highway=track signifies that it could be a good place fo go for a walk. railway=abandoned on its own means nothing about the current status; in most cases it will be private property.

(13 Aug '10, 22:58) NE2

I wouldn't use "railway=abandoned" for railways where no trace remains; only where you can still see the route clearly in the landscape. Personally I'd use "railway=dismantled" (not supported by renderers and nor should it be) when retagging old railways that have been added (e.g. from historic maps) of which there's no sign on the ground.

Also, there's no reason why something can't be both "railway=abandoned" and "highway=track".

(25 Jan '11, 15:37) SomeoneElse ♦

We do not do historic information very consistently or thoroughly. It's not really OSM's central focus - describing reality as it is at present. Mass data imports which haven't been checked against objective reality aren't really encouraged.

However, if and only if you know a physical trace remains in the landscape, you can use railway=abandoned or railway=disused, as explained on the page for railway tagging, to tag track routes.

For everything else? Well, you could use the "historic" key as well for track-side infrastructure of some former importance that's still standing (station level, perhaps). Additionally, for buildings abandoned or disused (and still visible), the "building" key makes a good start. A third option is "man_made" for visible metalwork and signalling remnants. I strongly recommend using values different from anything anybody might want to use for infrastructure which still exists and is in use.

A very important caveat: if you invent tagging, please make sure that it's backwards-compatible - in other words, if no visible trace remains of something, don't tag it using combinations that would result in it being represented or interpreted as an object currently in use. You can use taginfo (when it's working...) to search for existing tags and how widespread they are.

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answered 07 Jan '11, 16:39

Andrew%20Chadwick's gravatar image

Andrew Chadwick
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question asked: 12 Aug '10, 19:54

question was seen: 13,356 times

last updated: 23 Jan '14, 12:04

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum