Internet based Resources for Rail-trail users & advocates

This Web Site was relocated on February 11, 2000 to 
this Server http://railtrails.megalow.com/ 
because of severe ongoing problems with the Crosswinds Server!

Folks that use the new Web address:
are automatically forwarded to this server. 

However, all bookmarks that contain
will lead to defective or out of date Web pages!   

The Webmaster will try to replace the pages of the old site with 'change of address notices'
 but the importance of updating this new site as well as the 
 sheer size of the old site and the difficulty of making updates
will certainly prolong a very ugly process! 

Note that those Web pages still on the Tripod Server at
are still valid (to the Webmaster's knowledge)
despite the absence of any recent updates!

Note that the new E-mail address
also remains unchanged!

The following resources are necessarily of interest only to those folks that have some form of access to the Internet! Note that some of these resources have not been personally tried by the Webmaster due to a simple lack of opportunity. Since the service is either FREE or cheap, there is little financial risk in trying a given service for a period of time, then simply abandoning those that prove to be unworkable! 

Juno is just one of Several ISP firms offers totally free internet access from most places in the United States, in exchange for an ever present advertising panel on the user's screen. This service can be used at home by folks to avoid  monthly Web access fees. But the service can also be used by travelers (from their own laptop or notebook computer) whenever they can obtain the use of a telephone line for a long but local phone call.

Note that  'advertiser supported ' internet access services suggests the growing possibility that Web Access might be available to trail users at a growing number of hostels, campsites, and other types of overnight accommodations that have access to the necessary power and phone lines. 

Unfortunately the very popular Worldspy service was discontinued on June 30, 2000.

 Dialpad offers totally free long distance phone to most places in the United States. A sound card, microphone, and speakers/earphone is required to use the service. But the software is written in Java so that nothing needs to be downloaded in advance, thus it can be used even if the computer and Web Access has to be 'borrowed' for the purpose. Note that this service can be used to bypass the particularly high costs of long distance calls made from public phones or charged to credit cards and the like. 

Any Cellular Phone can be used to make '911' emergency phone calls without charge, even after its registration with a cell phone system has lapsed. Accordingly, serious trail users must consider an inexpensive or cast-off cell phone as being almost as important item of 'safety equipment' as their 'first aid kit'. Note however that cell phone coverage is poor or non-existent in many remote areas!  

Tracfone offers an inexpensive cell phone, particularly when the unit is 'on sale' at $19.95 (after rebates). The cost of this particular cell phone can thus be justified for its ability to make '911' calls when emergencies are encountered on the trail. Note that Tracfone's widely available 'prepaid phone card' scheme offers the ability to maintain a cell phone number for minimal usage at $7.99 per month. Note however that the high 'per minute' costs of the scheme will strongly discourage all 'unnecessary' phone usage. Note also that the prepayment scheme allows users to activate their cell phone on a seasonal basis only, and even allows cell phone service to folks with credit problems.

Note that the phone currently offered for sale under the Tracfone scheme is the Nokia model 918, which can apparently be used with other cellular phone carriers after the registration with Tracfone has lapsed. Thus, a user might be able to switch to a standard cell phone carrier with lower 'per minute' charges after the utility of the service has been demonstrated in daily life!

Desktop allows the registrant the ability to move from one machine to another without loosing access to all of the resources that normally reside on a given personal computer. This service might be important for folks that have don't have their own personal computer, but do have frequent access to various net-connected computers. It should also be important for folks that do a great deal of traveling to places where they can obtain access to computers that belong to other business firms or individuals.  

Desktop could also become an important tool for touring trail-trail users, if machines that are available for semi-public use can somehow be set up at appropriate locations near the trail. Trail users would be expected to use these machines to keep in contact with their own family and friends, make and change advance whatever advance reservations are required for their travel, obtain maps and other travel information that is required along the way, and so on. It is possible that advances in the software will enable travelers to upload digital photographs, GPS Waypoints, contents of palm-sized computers and the like at frequent intervals as they travel. These folks would thus be able to share their travel experiences with family and friends that are otherwise unable to travel with the trail user!

But even more powerful is the Desktop enabled trail user that is able and willing to use the pictures and written statements created along the trail to create a FREE personal WEB SITE of their journey, either along the way or shortly after their return. If the Webmaster for a given rail-trail is merely given the opportunity to link from the trail web site to the appropriate section of each of these personal Web Sites, each of these links thus becomes an incredible addition to the Web Site with very little effort on the part of the Webmaster!  

Appropriate locations for semi-public computers might include:

 Note that local trail organizations may find that it is necessary to request the donation of discarded but still usable computers, provide the tax writeoffs as an incentive for these donations, and to find other volunteers to provide the necessary hardware and software maintenance of these machines. A generous ISP might be willing to provide the dial-up access required for these machines at some locations. Other locations may be able to accommodate the trail users under their current ISP access arrangements. Last but not least is the very recent availability of advertiser supported (FREE) access to the Web! 

TopoZone - Current USGS Topographic Maps

The TopoZone is the Web's center for topographic map users and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. We've worked with the USGS to create the Web's first interactive topo map of the entire United States. If you're looking for maps that don't leave big blank spaces between the highways, welcome!

We think these maps are great just the way they are, but we've got big plans for the future. We're adding lots of new features to make the TopoZone the place on the Web for topographic map users. Sign up for the TopoTimes to get all the news right away!

We've got every USGS 1:100,000, 1:25,000, and 1:24,000 scale map for the entire United States; Alaska (1:63,360) and Puerto Rico (1:20,000) will be coming soon. Just type a place name in the search box and go!

The Webmaster of the this Rail-trail Web Site will be adding a link to the appropriate Topographic maps for every rail-trail that is open for public use, with one map for each railroad station and rural train stop that the trail passes through. This set of maps doesn't even try to cover the entire trail, but since these train stops were usually spaced at intervals of between 2 to 5 miles, a potential trail user should be able to find a station near the desired point then follow the trail through successive maps to reach the desired point. Because of the age of some maps, the rail-trail will shown on some or all maps with the symbol that represents an active railroad line!

Unfortunately, the process of adding links to the TopoZone Web Site takes time, especially when the Webmaster takes additional time is taken to fix other errors that are noticed along the way. In the meantime, any user can simply click on the Mapblast (road) map to reach a page that provides the latitude and longitude of the primary icon of that map, which can then be used at the TopoZone Web Site (using the 'Get a Map' button) to obtain the corresponding Topographic map.

Because most of the Rail-trails were once active railroads, a great many other rail-trails (both active and proposed) elsewhere are also shown on this mapping system. Users of this mapping system must however use great care in using these maps for this purpose, just because the same map symbol is also used for dormant and active railroads!

Mapblast provides regional highway maps and detailed street maps of the entire United States. But note that this service goes two steps further to provide to trail users:

Because most of the Rail-trails were once active railroads, a many rail-trails (both active and proposed) are shown on this mapping system. Users of this mapping system must however use great care in using these maps for this purpose, just because the same map symbol is also used for dormant and active railroads!

Updated on May 04, 2001 by Kenyon F. Karl <Webmaster@new-england-rail-trails.org>.
  Unintentional errors are likely!

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