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Shortline Railroads of Washington

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#1
Dennis McClendon

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My turn in the barrel. This is a somewhat unusual project for me, being smaller scale and using a fair amount of GIS data from a bunch of state and provincial sources as a beginning point. It's to be an 11 x 17 inch endpaper in a book for railfans about shortlines of Washington and Oregon.

The maps will be printed CMYK, so I wonder if I should make a little more use of color. The shortlines (now black) should be most prominent, but the mainlines (now purple) are just behind them in importance. I wonder if people see the purple as more important than the black? The typefaces were specified by the publisher.

I don't have a lot of control over the shaded relief illumination, etc. The only international source easily available to me was the ESRI SRTM shaded relief. Since I only have an ArcMap license, I just exported whatever Arc gave me and lightened it in Photoshop. I could, however, give it a brown or green tint.

Posted Image

Here's a PDF.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#2
DaveB

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Looking good. It's fun to stretch one's boundaries though, isn't it. And I know you know something about railroads.

Yeah, with the subdued color scheme (nothing wrong with that!) to me the purple lines do stand out more. Those are what my attention gets focused on.
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#3
David Medeiros

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I like it, despite being limited in your source and manipulation for the shaded relief it looks very good.

I agree with DaveB, the main lines in purple are on the top of the visual hierarchy for me, and the short lines seem second. I'd switch their colors.

I see a couple of spots where type (unavoidably) runs over some of the lines (Portland, Bremerton & Vancouver WA). Vancouver WA can be moved out a tiny bit to pull it off the lines. Bremerton could be moved just enough to allow the line to go up between the E & R in the label (may need to adjust letter tracking a bit as well). Portland is a tough one, can't really move it off the lines all together, you could use very close knockouts or halo to separate the label and lines.

My OCD side wants to see the legend for "Tacoma Area", the Pacific Ocean label and the N arrow/scale bar lined up on their centers.

Nice work!

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#4
Jacques Gélinas

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Real nice.

Apart from what others have said I would consider larger 'town' dots. IMO, they seem too small.
Also maybe add Canada, USA along the international border.
I might be wrong but at a glance it does not look like a 11x17 layout? Edit.... it is. My mistake on that assumption.

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Jacques Gélinas
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www.cartesgeo.ca


#5
razornole

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Map looks pretty good.

I agree with the comments above.

Have you tried justifying your text to your object. I.e. if your object is on the right, left justify and vice-verse?

Your rivers are lost in Idaho or any dark grey area. I think that the Snake River warrants a label w/i Washington.

Have you tried dropping the hierarchy of your city/towns. Possibly increasing the locator mark size but changing the text fill color to dark grey.

Something needs to be done with Puget Sound. Have you tried not typing on a path, but rather just label it like a lake. It should fit between Bremerton, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Is there a reason BNSF is not purple near Vancouver (BC)? I also think that it would help to write out Burlington Norther/Santa Fe and Union Pacific at least once. Although I am sure if someone is buying a train book they will know those acronyms. However maps should always be stand-alone.

I'm guessing that RR means railroad and Ry means Rail yard. If that is the case I think that you miss labeled Seattle & North Coast Ry. That would be one hell of a long Rail yard.

Hope this helps,
kru
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#6
Dennis McClendon

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Thanks, guys. I'll make the town dots bigger, adjust some labels, and give some more thought to the color hierarchy.

One interesting sidelight has been seeing the limitations of available GIS data digitized at very different scales. It's one thing for state boundaries to not be coincident with the rivers, but a lot of the railroad linework, presumably digitized from the same 24K topos as the rivers, jumps from one side of the channel to the other or runs down the middle. So I ended up redrawing the rivers and the railroads and the boundaries—everything except some of the big lakes and part of the coastline.

RR is Railroad while Ry is Railway. We railfans take our railroad names rather seriously, and often a bankrupt Railroad emerged from reorganization as a Railway, or vice versa. Incidentally, BNSF Railway is now the complete legal name. The letters aren't an abbreviation. I see lots of local GIS guys use something completely made up, like Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe Rail Road.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#7
Matthew Hampton

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I see a couple of spots where type (unavoidably) runs over some of the lines (Portland, ...


FWIW: you can remove the Shortline that crashes into the Portland label. The rails were pulled and the ROW was turned into a trail in 1991. It's called the Springwater Corridor and is an integral part of our region's expanding bike network.

I was curious why the Rye-Chelatchie Branch doesn't share the same labeling convention as the rest (with a bold abbv. and plain text label.)?

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#8
Charles Syrett

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Clean map, tastefully done. Here's what I like:

Everything in the design hierarchy has been carefully selected and placed -- unlike the usual "data dump" approach used so often these days (find data, dump it, then find a way to make it "pretty", including lots of haloes around text).

Lots of redrawing of linework -- almost inevitable at this scale, and given the multiple data sources (as you noted).

The relief is understated. It does what it's supposed to do, and no more.

Minimalist use of lines. For example, no strokes for water bodies; white outlines for states. No unnecessary base map detail. This approach keeps everything clean and reduces "eye noise".

What I would change:

Ditto to the others' comments on the tiny townstamps -- they definitely need to be bigger.

You could restyle the shortlines as purple, and the mainlines as a lighter and/or finer purple line -- something like the way you did the roads on your Truth or Consequences map in the Cartography Design Annual #1. The two kinds of rail lines would then retain their visual association through colour. BTW, I aggressively avoid use of black for linework (except of B&W maps) almost as much as you avoid letterspacing lower case!

The water names outside WA are difficult to read. The trick is to fix this without making them too dominant within the state. Maybe add a little magenta to the text colour? I know I can trust you not to use haloes.

Have you thought of labeling the newly-named Salish Sea? It's pretty recent, and completely official. The only widely-distributed maps I've noticed that include it are from Canadian Geographic.

I agree about the remark on the orientation of graphic elements on the left side (title, scale, etc). I know there's some sort of graphic design "rule" about not mixing centred with flush left, but none of those rules are absolute. Still, it does look a little hodge-podge.

And yes, the international boundary does need to be acknowledged somehow.

Looking forward to the next version!

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#9
Dennis McClendon

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For those interested, a revised PDF at
http://dl.dropbox.co... shortlines.pdf

And for the real masochists, the just-completed Oregon map at
http://dl.dropbox.co... shortlines.pdf


Yes, some of these railroads are now gone, but the map covers 1960–2008. For that reason, Salish Sea seems anachronistic so I probably won't bring that up. I did have to use some halos on Portland; I hope they're not distracting. I did a little compromising with the graphic elements out in the ocean.

The naming convention has been one of the trickiest things to work out with the author. Some of the railroads (such as the Rye-Chelatchie line) had as many as four owners during the time referenced, and others were mere logging railroads rather than common carriers. So the bold reporting marks are used only for common carriers, and the corporate names are in reverse chronological order.

As far as the hierarchy of line colors, I wanted to use black linework and town names because it's so well-established in railroad maps of past eras. Would an ocher for the mainlines send it to the background better?

Posted Image
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#10
David Medeiros

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The halo for Portland looks good, very tight to the line so it just barely separates the label and rail. However I think if you are going to use knockouts or halos you need to extend that to all labels that cover line-work and can't be moved off the lines some other way.

For the rail colors I think the issue you face is that the main lines are ordinaly higher up than the spur lines but the spurs are your focus. Color of any saturation on a mostly gray scale map suggests focus so even a light ocher would make them stand out. I say switch the color to the spur lines. But if you want to maintain the black line convention than perhaps a slightly thicker dark gray line for the mains? If you need to use a color for mainlines I'd look at cooler colors as well, again even desaturated warm colors draw attention.

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#11
Laura Miles

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I really like the way you've used the light-coloured text on the darker hillshade outside Washington. The "Vancouver Island" text stands out though, I'm not sure if maybe you intended to do all natural features darker but it's the only text of that shade outside of Washington.
Was "Salish Sea" made the official name in Canada as well? I know as of about a year and a half ago it was still under discussion.
Laura

#12
Dennis McClendon

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For various reasons I see it as problematic to make the shortlines a prominent color. The main problem is what to do about town dots and names that are not on any rail line, and by extension, other geographic features.

Do any of these colors work to recede behind the shortlines?

Posted Image

Or is it like being told to not think about elephants? Once you're asked to not see the colored mainlines as most prominent, that's all you can focus on.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#13
Hans van der Maarel

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Do any of these colors work to recede behind the shortlines?


3rd option works best for me.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#14
DaveB

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I know it's tempting to use color when you get an opportuinity to make maps for 4 color process printing, but I'm thinking a gray might work best to de-emphasize some lines while using black for the lines you want to emphasize. I think any color is going to draw the eye more than black does, but a sort of "desaturated" black (in other words, gray) could recede compared to a solid black. And/or maybe use different line weights?
Dave Barnes
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#15
Charles Syrett

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What Dave is saying here makes sense. If you must use black for your railroads (presumably because this map will be viewed by a lot of railroad aficionados and black would "look right" to them -- otherwise I don't see the point), then why not use solid black for your shortlines, and screened black for the others? If you do try that, then you may want to revisit the colour of the background relief, since there may now be too much screened black.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

I know it's tempting to use color when you get an opportunity to make maps for 4 color process printing, but I'm thinking a gray might work best to de-emphasize some lines while using black for the lines you want to emphasize. I think any color is going to draw the eye more than black does, but a sort of "desaturated" black (in other words, gray) could recede compared to a solid black. And/or maybe use different line weights?






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