Today's newspaper brings good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the old Iron Mountain railroad tracks between Gordonville and Delta will likely be sold for scrap.
The good news is that the decommissioned railbed might provide an opportunity to construct a hiking trail on the cheap.
It all hinges on whether the steel bridges over the Diversion Channel at Allenville and Hubble Creek at Dutchtown will be scrapped or not. Without the bridges, it would be too expensive to build replacements to carry a trail. But if only the tracks are sold for scrap, then the 12-mile corridor between Gordonville and Delta would make for a perfect hiking/biking trail with relatively little expense.
Missouri's Katy Trail and Illinois' Tunnel Hill Trail show just how successful these rails-to-trails projects can become. The railroad engineers built their tracks with gentle slopes and curves, providing an ideal path for bicyclists.
As a bonus, preserving the railroad corridor would make it possible to restore railroad service to Jackson in the future if it ever became feasible to do so. And you never know when something like this might come in handy: During May 2002, the railroad bridge at Allenville was the only access to the town after flooding covered all surrounding roads.
If the chance to build this rail-trail becomes available, then Jackson, Delta, and Cape Girardeau County should waste no time pouncing on this opportunity.
Map of the Gordonville-to-Delta railroad line
History of the Iron Mountain railroad