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Replacing rails with trails

Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008, at 2:18 PM

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.

Related links

Map of the Gordonville-to-Delta railroad line

History of the Iron Mountain railroad

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy


Comments
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That would sure be a little boost for Delta, as I suppose if the bridge is salvageable, it would be the southern terminal. But why not go all the way to Morley or Charleston? Maybe they could once again crank up the old Caney grocery! Let's get Scott county involved, too!

-- Posted by Hugh M Bean on Thu, Jul 31, 2008, at 10:57 AM

Great Idea! Turning a negaitive into a huge positive. You are my favorite blogger and I hope this information reaches all the right people.

-- Posted by CeilingCatKnowsBest on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 12:44 PM

I think there is federal money to help with this project. The Missouri Parks Foundation, which works to secure park land might also help. In addition, there was some talk that the settlement money from the Johnson Shut In disaster would go to buy the land to extend the Katy trail to KC, maybe this project would qualify.

The point of being able to ride and not be in Hwy 25 is excellent. It is tough enough to drive it in a car with no shoulder, let alone on a bike.

-- Posted by Always_Learning on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 12:11 PM

Sounds like a good use for some of the 300K that the County just got for parks by sell the land to the Drurys.

-- Posted by darkstar on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 10:16 AM

I echo the sentiment to turn it into a rails-to-trails. The route is long enough and scenic enough to attract serious riders and provides an alternate to riding 25, which is fairly narrow and has traffic moving at greater than the speed limit in most places.

It'll be money well spent. Rails to trails have an economic benefit wherever they've sprung up.

-- Posted by Ken1 on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 7:28 AM

I have ridden both the Katy Trail and the Tunnel Hill trail and they are wonderful ways to enjoy nature and get exercise. The trail (spur) from Columbia to the Katy Trail is used by walkers, bikers and runners. I hope this can happen, I will be on it often.

-- Posted by Always_Learning on Tue, Jul 29, 2008, at 11:01 PM


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The webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers, James Baughn has lost track of the number of websites he manages. On the side, he maintains even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix.
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