Geospatial PDF

Adobe Acrobat Reader has supported layers since version 6. This provides a universal format for viewing GIS layers without having to install a GIS program. To turn layers on and off, access the Navigation Panel Layers tool. Note: PDFs viewed within browsers generally do not support layers. Right-click and save the pdf for opening directly in Acrobat Reader.

Georeferencing meta data can be embedded in the pdf format to allow GIS programs to place a Geospatial PDF in its correct location. This can be useful in the field with GIS aware pdf viewers for smart phones - (iPhone/iPad/Android: Avenza PDF Maps. KML paths can also be loaded in Google Earth and other GIS programs on smart phones or GPS units.

USGS is now releasing current and historic topo maps in GeoPDF format. You can download these maps from the USGS Store by using Map Locator to search for a location and then clicking on the red placemark to see the available downloads. For additional map related features for TerraGo supported pdfs, you can download and install the free TerraGo Toolbar for Acrobat.

Layer Tool



The following Geospatial PDF files were created with Global Mapper to illustrate the use of GIS layers to trace abandoned right-of-ways and other geographic & historic features. Use the layer tool in Acrobat to turn individual layers on and off. The geographic accuracy of the layers varies, so the right-of-way path is my best guess as to actual geographic location, even if it does not quite match with a specific layer. In many cases, I have not had the opportunity to check this information in the field, so actual locations could be off. Please contact me, if you have addition information that might improve their accuracy. Digital Elevation Model data and Topo maps courtesy of the USGS. Early Topo maps courtesy of Cleveland Public Library and other sources. Historic aerial photos courtesy of Pennsylvania Goeological Survey and Cleveland Public Library. Parcel information provided by the respective County GIS departments. KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth.
Lake Metroparks:
DEM and 2' Contours with Park Map overlay
Penitentiary Glen (2.1MB)
Scranton, PA - Steamtown National Historic Site
Brewster, OH - W&LE Yard 1951 overlay on 2006 aerial (4MB)

B&O Somerset Area (B&O 2012 Convention)

Note: these were originally projected in State Plane PA South NAD27. For some reason Avenza PDF Maps has trouble with this projection so they have been reprojected using NAD83 feet.

B&O Confluence DEM (.7MB)
B&O Myersdale - Sandpatch DEM (3.2MB)
Johnstown PA 1939 Aerial from pennpilot (1.6MB)
S&C Rockwood to Somerset DEM (3.5MB)
S&C Quemahoning Branch Aerials (4.5MB) DEM (3MB)
S&C Wilburn 1939 Aerials (3MB)
S&C Jerome to Johnstown DEM (2.5MB)
South Penn Railroad (NYC) Right of Way - never completed. (see Russell Love's South Penn Railroad research) Negro Mountain Tunnel Area (3MB)

Connellsville-Uniontown PA area

West Penn Interuban (purple) and railroad (PRR-red, B&O-blue) overlays. Draft 3 with minor corrections

USGS 2010 Topo (PDF 5.8MB)

USGS Digital Elevation Model (12.5MB)

Penn Pilot 1939 Aerials (7.4MB)- georeferenced but NOT orthorectified. Exact location may be off because of changes in elevation.

Pittsburgh Railways Company
Draft 14 improves right of way colors, adds Inclines.
Draft 12 updates a number of areas partly based on 1910 Arnold map.
Draft 9 updates to Allegheny City, Homestead areas
Draft 8 higher resolution DEM, elevation legend, updated Birmingham area.
Draft 4 Numerous updates pointed out by John Swinder including along the Mongahella River. Updates to Sharpsburg.
Draft 2 updated Neville Island area, added points of interest, removed Chartiers Southern Grade - never built.

PittsburghRyCoDEM_DRAFT14 (PDF 13MB)

note: this map is intended for a new book on the Pittsburgh Railways Co. by Blaine Hays and Jim Toman, to be published by CERA in late 2012.

Google Maps KML (shared by
can be added to your Google Maps "My Places" in order to view in Google Earth on your smart phone.

Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway (Harmony Electric Route)

For more information:

Warrendale/Criders Corners area (PDF 7.5MB)

Ross Township, Renfer Bridge area (PDF 8MB)

KML path of the right-of-way (in development, not complete)

Lewistown, PA
location of PRRH&TS Archives

Lewistown Area Railroads DEM Draft 12/3/11 (PDF 9MB)

Lewistown Area 1938 Aerials (from Pennpilot) (PDF 12MB)

  • Lake Erie and Pittsburgh (right of way only, no track in this area)
  • Berea Quarry Spurs (LS&MS and CL&W)
  • Cleveland Southwestern and predecessor Interurban routes
Berea and Olmsted Falls area (PDF 15MB)
Little Mountain (Geauga/Lake County)
1892 Map courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
DEM with 2' Contours (PDF 3MB)
Ortho with 2' Contours (PDF 4.7MB)
Holden Arboretum &
Stebbins Gulch
Holden Arboretum (PDF 12MB)
2' Contours (12MB KMZ)
DEM & 1953 Topo (KML)
University Circle 1912

Hopkins1912 (PDF 4MB - T)
Hopkins1912 (PDF 4MB)

Cleveland Heights 1912 Hopkins 1912 (PDF 8MB)
Cleveland Heights 1941 Noble Monticello Area (PDF 13MB)
Shaker Lakes 1912 Hopkins 1912(PDF 4MB)

GeoPDF PA 15': Allentown 1894 1939 1957 West 1902 1942 1957


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