Arkansas’ Razorback Regional Greenway • 2022 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame + Rail-Trail Champion
FALL 2022 FROM RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY
Redefining a Region
St. Louis’ Burgeoning River Ring Is Reconnecting People and Neighborhoods, Creating New Economic Opportunities and Reviving the City’s Forgotten History
I SUPPORT RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY
Thresa Giles and Albert Grant Jacksonville, Florida
FROM #TEAMRTC My Favorite Rail-Trail Noor Hanosh
Each issue we highlight a member or special partner in our national trail community. Special thanks to Thresa Giles and Albert Grant for supporting America’s rail-trails!
Digital Campaigns Associate As a long-time runner, a hiker
and—more recently—a cyclist living in Wash - ington, D.C., I’m always looking for ways to be in nature without being too far from the city. This spring, I took my first run on the Rock Creek Park trails in Northwest D.C. and was enthralled by how vast it was, and how se - cluded—despite being well populated—it felt. It was like I discovered an oasis, and as crazy as it may sound, I smiled my way through the entire experience. I love that you can use the trails to get around different neighborhoods, access other trails or just enjoy some time outside among the trees. My favorite part of Rock Creek Park is Beach Drive, a 4-mile stretch that has been closed to vehicle traffic since the start of the pandemic but will soon revert to only weekend and summer closures. It always fills me with joy to head out on a Saturday morning and see all the other people walking, running, cycling, skating or just being outside. It makes me feel connected to the community in the way that we’re all finding our little slice of peace in this park. It just demonstrates the importance of creating spaces for all types of outdoor recreation and connecting different communities and neighborhoods by trail. • FEATURED LETTER TO THE EDITOR Greatest New Bike Trail I love your magazine, but how could you have left out one of the greatest new bike trails in the world? They took a car lane away and built a wide bike trail on the Brooklyn Bridge. It is arguably the most famous bridge in the world, and the new path is very busy. Yours, respectfully. Alvin Golub , New York, New York Thanks so much, Alvin, for drawing attention to this incredible bike-ped infrastructure! To read about more iconic and impactful bridges and trestles, be sure to catch our TrailBlog: rtc.li/iconic-bridges-trestles . • Correction: In the Trailside story on p. 32 of the Spring 2022 issue, we described the Spring to Spring Trail as continuing around “Lake Bedford Park,” but this is incorrect. The correct name is “Lake Beresford Park.” Our apologies for the error!
What we do: Thresa is the chief financial officer for Pace Center for Girls and loves the joy she gets from serving future women leaders. Albert is a retired banker who now spends his time consulting for national and international companies that wish to expand their footprint in the United States. We both love riding our bikes and are avid football fans. Person we admire: Thresa: Harriet Tubman for her courage, leadership, self - lessness and strength. Albert: My mom, who passed away during the COVID pandemic. She was the epitome of strength, and to her, she never had a bad day. Why we started using trails: Prior to the pandemic, we traveled extensively. In March 2020, COVID hit, and the world came to a screeching halt. For the next several months, we only left the house to obtain essen - tial items. As a result of our self-imposed hibernation, we started to pack on pounds and experience mental stress and COVID fatigue. Thresa: I decided to purchase a bike. Albert vehemently proclaimed that he would never ride a bike and that I had lost my mind,
as he had a misconcep - tion about biking causing prostate cancer. After four weeks, Albert noticed the change in my mood and overall happiness. He relented and purchased his first bike for $100. Although our first ride together was only 5 miles, the after-effects were excruciating: muscle pain, fatigue and a few choice words. But we were not deterred. We became a daily riding fixture in our neighborhood and racked up more than 1,100 miles that summer. Shortly thereafter, we were introduced to the trail life. A meaningful life story: Our first trail was the Palatka- to-St. Augustine State Trail, an 18-mile route in northeast - ern Florida. We unloaded our bikes in St. Augustine and pedaled toward Palatka. Thresa: On our return with about 10 miles left, the Florida heat had taken its toll on me, and I simply could not go any farther. But I was not going to give up. The following week, we rode the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 14.5-mile route in our hometown. We aced it. Yes, it was still 95 degrees, but I was totally prepared and sufficiently hydrated. That
ride was the beginning of our weekend trail adventures.
How trails have impacted us in the past few years: Riding the trails has not only made us healthier and happier but has also allowed us to become a part of the rails-to-trails family. Albert and I both lost our moms to COVID, and trails became an important coping mechanism. Riding continues to give both of us enjoyment, fulfillment and—most importantly—the belief that we are not defined by our age. Why we support RTC: RTC works assiduously to create safe pathways for everyone to walk, bike or just decompress. We do not ride on roads, and rail-trails are a blessing to us. Learn more about Thresa and Albert’s story at rtc.li/thresa- albert-trail-moments . Read about their experiences on trails around the country at Rails to Trails Reviews on Facebook. •
Add your unique voice to the rail-trail movement by becoming a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Learn more about us at railstotrails.org, or call 202.331.9696 for info.
COVER STORY 08 Redefining a Region Eventually spanning 600 miles and comprising 45 trails, Great Rivers Greenway’s burgeoning River Ring is redefining neighborhood connectivity, outdoor life and commerce in the St. Louis region, while reconnecting people to a city’s forgotten history.
By Cory Matteson
14 Legacy of a Hometown Hero Part of our History Along the Great American Rail-Trail ® coverage, this feature explores the legacy of Sgt. Sator Sanchez, a decorated World War II serviceman whose heroism is honored by the Mexican-American
18 2022 Rail-Trail Champion For her leadership in generating support for trails throughout the Hoosier State, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has designated State Rep. Carey Hamilton as the 2022 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion. Learn more about Rep. Hamilton’s efforts to help complete Indiana’s statewide trail network.
22 Natural Attraction At 45.8 miles, the Razorback Regional Greenway—which is made up of 22 distinct trails—spans a large portion of Northwest Arkansas, connecting the hubs of Bentonville and Fayetteville with the region’s growing suburban communities and popular outdoor amenities.
community of Joliet, Illinois, where he was born and raised.
By Ashley Stimpson
By Erica Sweeney
By Cory Matteson
Left // I Support Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Thresa Giles and Albert Grant (Florida) Left // From the Staff/Featured Letter to the Editor 02 // Point of View 03 // RTC Quarterly Report 04 // Emerging Rail-Trails West Rail Trail (Texas) 06 // Best Of Great American Rail-Trail Adventure With the Traverses 19 // A View From ... The 2022 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame Inductee: The Eastern Trail (Maine) 27 // Destination Gateway to Glacier Trail (Montana) 30 // Community Connections Casper Rail Trail + Platte River Trail (Wyoming) 32 // Trail Moments Swapping a Car for a Bike (Washington, D.C.) Inside Back Cover // Featured Map Great Rivers Greenway River Ring (St. Louis)
ON THE COVER: River des Peres Greenway
in St. Louis, Missouri Photo courtesy Great Rivers Greenwa y
POINT OF VIEW
Joy and Reflection
Rails to Trails is the magazine of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. RTC was incorporated in 1985 as a nonprofit charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is a publicly supported organization as defined in Sections 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) and 509(a)(1). A copy of the current financial statement, or annual report, and state registration filed by RTC may be obtained by contacting RTC at the address listed below. Donations to RTC are tax-deductible. Rails to Trails is a benefit of membership in RTC. Regular membership is $22 a year, $5 of which supports the magazine. Members also receive discounts on RTC gifts and publications. Rails to Trails is published four times a year—three in print, one digital—by RTC. Copyright 2022 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. ISSN 1523-4126. Printed in the U.S.A.
As autumn settles in, I find myself reflecting on the joyful trail moments I squeezed into the nooks and crannies of the longer summer days. Trail walks and bike rides are welcome parts of my routine—whether it’s being active on my commute to the office, connecting with nature and family on long trail walks on weekends, or swapping my car for my bike to get to the grocery store and run other errands around town. I’m committed to keeping all these activities going as the days get cooler in the months ahead. Like Victoria Yuen (p. 32) of Washington, D.C., who recently gave up her car in favor
of biking as her primary mode of transportation, everything is simply better and more rewarding when I can get where I need to go by trail. Victoria shares how, growing up, the idea of walking and biking to where she wanted to go seemed out of reach because she had to navigate streets that were built for cars. Now, biking—on trails—gives her a more enjoyable way to get around. We’re so inspired by stories like Victoria’s that #TeamRTC has decided to challenge ourselves to swap more car trips for trail trips this fall. We’re exploring what it really takes to make that change in our lives—what motivates us and what stands in our way. We’re sharing our stories, and we’ll be using what we learn to help more people choose trails for their everyday activities ( railstotrails.org/swapatrip ). We’re excited and optimistic about what we’ll learn, and we can’t wait to get to know the neighborhoods where we live just a little better. While we love the practical and recreational benefits of trails, they are often underrated for their role as storytellers. In many places, like in St. Louis, trails are elevating long overlooked histories of people and places (p. 8). The Brickline Greenway, part of the developing 600-mile Great Rivers Greenway River Ring, will celebrate the important legacy of Mill Creek Valley—a once thriving Black community that was erased in the late 1950s as part of urban development. The greenway will showcase its history, people, commerce, arts and culture. In Northwest Arkansas, the Razorback Regional Greenway (p. 22) is bringing new energy and momentum to the communities it connects across 45+ miles. Local leaders point to the trail’s path through the heart of these communities, elevating the diversity of cultures and ways of life that make it a great place to live and visit. What’s more, the greenway—traversing one of the country’s fastest-growing regions—is inspiring people to get outside. More than a quarter of residents regularly ride bikes—higher than the national average. They’re pedaling for fun, walking to restaurants and soaking in everything the towns along the route have to offer. These stories capture why the team at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is so committed to making trails available, accessible and well known to everyone in America. Our moments on the trail create space for joy and opportunities for reflection. They get us outside and connected to each other. I feel more in touch with nature, my neighbors and my home every time I get out from behind a windshield to experience them. At every turn, it’s clear that trails inspire community.
PRESIDENT Ryan Chao BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jon Cofsky, Chair; Balaji Bondili; James Brainard; Edward Chang; Mark A. Filippell, J.D.; John Friedmann; Vanessa Garrison; Rose M. Z. Gowen, M.D.; Catherine Sloss Jones; Noel Kegel; M. Katherine Kraft, Ph.D.; Gail M. Lipstein; Ayesha McGowan; Douglas Monieson; Frank Mulvey, Ph.D.; Timothy Noel, Ph.D., CFA; Tom Petri; John P. Rathbone; Juliette Rizzo; Daniel A. Rodríguez, Ph.D.; James F. Sallis, Ph.D.
MAGAZINE STAFF VP OF COMMUNICATIONS Brandi Horton EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amy Kapp SENIOR EDITOR Laura Stark COPY EDITOR Sharon Congdon DESIGN/PRODUCTION Bussolati
RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY HEADQUARTERS 2121 Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor Washington, DC 20037-1213 PHONE 202.331.9696 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITES railstotrails.org, TrailLink.com FIELD AND REGIONAL OFFICES MIDWEST Yellow Springs, OH 614.837.6782 email@example.com NORTHEAST Philadelphia, PA 267.332.4267 firstname.lastname@example.org WESTERN Oakland, CA 510.992.4662 email@example.com FLORIDA Tallahassee, FL 866.202.9788 r firstname.lastname@example.org BALTIMORE Baltimore, MD 410.207.2445 MILWAUKEE Milwaukee, WI 414.688.4367 POSTMASTER SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO Rails to Trails , 2121 Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor Washington, DC 20037-1213
Ryan Chao, President Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
RAILS TO TRAILS FALL 2022
RTC QUARTERLY REPORT
Biden Administration Signals Trails Are Fundamental to Safe, Equitable Communities
Maine’s Eastern Trail Selected by National Vote for Rail-Trail Hall of Fame
New Study Illustrates the Economic Potential of the Great American Rail-Trail
Detroit’s Joe Louis Greenway Inspires Community-Led Trail Building in Wisconsin
California Approves an Additional $1 Billion+ for Trails, Walking and Biking
What We’ve Been Up To
Biden Administration Signals Trails Are Fundamental to Safe, Equitable Communities The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently published a proposed rule that provides a leveraging tool to encourage states and regional planning entities to invest in sustainable transportation projects such as trails and active transportation networks. The rule would require state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to establish performance measures for greenhouse-gas emission (GGE) reductions from the transportation sector—essentially, that they set goals for GGE reductions and then track progress toward meeting those goals. Some DOTs have objected to the rule, claiming it imposes restrictions on how they spend infrastructure bill funds. If passed, however, the rule would do much to encourage the development of transportation infrastructure that could greatly reduce America’s carbon footprint in the long term. RTC is urging all trail supporters to submit comments supporting the proposed rule and help ensure the FHWA publishes a final rule supporting sustainable transporta- tion solutions. Learn more at rtc.li/ gge-proposed or rtc.li/gge-rule .
public vote this summer alongside two other exemplary nominees— Alaska’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Missouri’s Grant’s Trail—which were selected for merits including outstanding scenic value, high use, amenities, historical significance and community value. The developing 65-mile Eastern Trail welcomes 250,000 people each year along Southern Maine’s coastline and dense forests and features a famous light- house called the Bug Light, the 3,000-acres-plus Scarborough Marsh and a 7-mile stretch of sandy beach. It is critical to two developing trail networks: the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway and the 560-miles-and-growing New England Rail-Trail Network. A recent economic impact study of the Eastern Trail found that it delivers $44.6 million in annual benefits and supports 364 jobs across the state. Learn more about the trail in “A View From ... ” on p. 19 or online at railstotrails.org/ halloffame.
will contribute $161 million to the GDP/year (although the authors affirm that investment and support by communities that host the trail are critical for this potential to be fully realized). It’s also estimated that the Great American will sup- port around 25,000 jobs over the next 10 years. RTC estimates that the project will cost approximately $1 billion to complete—an invest- ment that will be recouped within five years by direct visitor spend - ing along the route. Learn more: rtc.li/grt-impact .
a focus on how safe walking and bicycling trails can benefit local residents and reconnect communi- ties historically divided by busy interstates. Eventually, the Route of the Badger will connect seven coun- ties in Southeast Wisconsin. Learn more: r ailstotrails.org/badger .
Contact: Willie Karidis, email@example.com.
California Approves an Additional $1 Billion+ for Trails, Walking and Biking In June, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $308 billion state budget bill allocating an additional $1 billion+ to the Active Transportation Program (ATP) Cycle 6. This additional funding— pulled from the general fund surplus—will bring the total funds available for Cycle 6 applications (which cover four years of allocations) to $1.65 billion. The allocation is a huge win for trails in California—providing the opportunity for dozens of additional trail and active transportation projects to be supported while helping the state meet ambitious greenhouse- gas reduction targets. ATP applications are currently in review, with results expected in December. Demand for safe walking and bicycling infrastructure continues to increase, with Cycle 6 receiving 432 applications (as of mid-June) totaling $3.1 billion—a $1 billion increase over the last funding cycle. RTC’s Western Regional Office continues to work with partners across California to advocate for increased permanent, long-term funding for trails and
Contact: Kevin Belanger, firstname.lastname@example.org. Detroit’s Joe Louis Greenway Inspires Community-Led Trail Building in Wisconsin
In June, partners from Wisconsin’s developing 700-mile Route of the
Badger trail network converged with trail advocates and active transportation experts in Detroit to learn more about the community-led inspiration and trail development work behind the in-progress 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway. The trail, whose development is being guided by residents and local leaders— and which will eventually make larger connections to Michigan’s statewide trail network and eventually Canada—is anticipated to serve as an economic boon to help revitalize neglected areas along the route. View a video about the trail in Rails to Trails’ 2022 Green Issue: rtc.li/joe-louis-gway . Earlier this year, Northwest Milwaukee organizations kickstart- ed a two-year, community-driven equitable-trail-development pro- cess to create a 7.25-mile trail along the 30th Street Corridor, with
Contact: Suzanne Matyas, email@example.com.
New Study Illustrates the Economic Potential of the Great American Rail-Trail In May, Headwaters Economics, in partnership with RTC, released the results of a study on the 3,700- mile developing Great American Rail-Trail ® , estimating that the trail could generate more than $229.4 million in spending annually, including $22.8 million in new tax revenue and more than 25.6 million annual trips. The analysis looked at the trail’s potential to bring visitors, busi- nesses, spending, jobs income and tax revenue to communities along the route, and found that the trail
Contact: Patrick Wojahn, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine’s Eastern Trail Selected by National Vote for Rail-Trail Hall of Fame In August, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy announced Maine’s Eastern Trail as the 2022 inductee into the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The trail was chosen by
active transportation. Contact: Laura Cohen, email@example.com.
FALL 2022 RAILS TO TRAILS
PHOTOS: (Left) Construction began on Brownsville’s West Rail Trail in October 2021; (inset) Residents protest plans to build a high-speed tollway in the former railroad corridor; (below) The 6.6-mile rail-trail will traverse the city’s western residential neighborhoods.
the neighborhood, Sanchez began organizing community meetings to talk about the project and devise a plan of action. “We wanted some - thing that would benefit everyone,” she said of the community’s vision for the old railroad corridor. “We wanted a bike-and-hike trail that would connect to other trails.” To make the community’s wishes clear, the determined group, which would become known as the Friends of the West Rail Trail, gathered more than 5,000 signa - tures from neighbors and other city residents farther afield who would also be able to use the trail once it tied into the existing trail system. In 2012, after years of persistent push - back from the community, plans for the tollway were scrapped. The group also flexed their power
Texas’ West Rail Trail A project more than a decade in the making, Brownsville’s West Rail Trail becomes a reality thanks to a united and unwavering grassroots movement.
politically, helping to elect local officials—like Cameron County
BY LAURA STARK
Commissioner Joey Lopez, a lifelong Brownsville resident living just blocks from the rail corridor—who were sympathetic to their cause. Eventu - ally, a compromise was reached with the county allowing the city to transform most of the 8-mile route into the West Rail Trail and use 2 miles of the rail corridor for a road. With $8 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan funds and additional support from the federal Transportation Alternatives program, work started at long last in October 2021 after approval from the Texas Department of Transportation. “We were a small group fighting such a big entity, so I tell the kids when I teach that if you believe in something—no matter how small you are—don’t ever think you don’t have a voice,” said Sanchez. “Don’t ever give up. If you stick with it, you can be successful.” The paved pathway, spanning 6.6 miles, will run from the north end of town near the 77 Flea Market, a
At the southern tip of Texas, the neighborhoods of west Brownsville are quiet and close-knit with unpretentious, single-story homes along tree-lined streets. It seems unimaginable now, but in 2008, plans were underway to turn a disused railroad corridor that ran north-south through the community into a raucous, high-speed tollway just steps away from residents’ backyards. “The railroad went through the city for 100 years,” said Brownsville City Commissioner Rose Gowen. “It divided west Brownsville. When plans began to remove the rail out of town, the city and county worked with Union Pacific to accomplish that, and ownership of the corridor was transferred to the county.” When letters went out to home - owners to inform them of a decision to convert the rail corridor into an elevated tollway—a project largely advanced by the Cameron County
Regional Mobility Authority—they were not written in Spanish despite 90% of Brownsville residents being Hispanic, nor was Spanish transla - tion provided at initial public meet - ings about the project. “We live in an older section of Brownsville—the poor side of town,” said Brownsville resident Susana Sanchez. “They treated us like we didn’t know any better for our city, and they were just there to tell us what they were going to do.” When blueprints of the planned tollway were unveiled, residents were aghast. Sanchez remembers walking among the displays and hearing a growing murmur of un - ease sweeping through the crowd. It was then that Sanchez, an elemen - tary school teacher, found herself suddenly—and quite unexpectedly— becoming a leader in a grassroots movement to stop the project. “It felt like David and Goliath,” she recalled. Going door-to-door throughout
PROPOSED TRAIL: West Rail Trail LOCATION: The rail-trail will extend from Palm Boulevard to just north of the 77 Flea Market in the western neighborhoods of Brownsville, a city at the southern tip of Texas, adjacent to the Mexican border. USED RAILROAD CORRIDOR: Union Pacific Railroad
LENGTH: 6.6 miles SURFACE: Asphalt
RAILS TO TRAILS FALL 2022
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popular shopping and dining ame - nity, past a handful of schools, small lakes and parks, and then south to Palm Boulevard. Instead of traffic, the cacophony of parrots and other subtropical birds can be heard in the corridor as well as the mooing of cows in the fields along its more rural northern sections. “The trail is going to bring so many positive things to the community,” enthused Gowen, who was support - ive of the project since the beginning. “Equity and accessibility and health all wrapped up in economic growth.” The West Rail Trail will also play an integral part in the city’s connect - ed trail loop, which loosely forms a rectangle. It parallels another rail-trail—the Historic Battlefield Trail—and the two longer trails will be connected by the short arms of the rectangle comprising the Belden Trail and the Morrison Road Trail. This trail system is tucked inside an even more expansive network, the 428-mile Caracara Trails, a Rails- to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation™ project that aims to connect com - munities all across the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Although the trail is not anticipated to officially open until September 2022, Gowen noted that people are already “itching to get on it,” with curious neighbors taking exploratory outings to check out its construction. “I feel like neighbors are going to start getting to know each other much better,” said Sanchez. “You want closeness in a community. You’re going to meet new people on the trail, and I think that’s wonderful.” •
PHOTO: The former rail line on which the West Rail Trail will run was active in western Brownsville for a century; its most recent owner, Union Pacific Railroad, transferred the corridor to Cameron County.
Learn more about the Caracara Trails, a 428-mile trail network connecting communities across Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the area’s rich natural, cultural and historical resources: caracaratrails.org .
LOOK GREAT ON THE TRAIL. Your purchase supports the trails you love!
Laura Stark serves as senior editor of Rails to Trails magazine and the TrailBlog ( railstotrails.org/ trailblog ).
Learn more: facebook.com/WestRailTrail .
FALL 2022 RAILS TO TRAILS
Our Great American Rail-Trail Adventure
BY SHEVONNE AND PAT TRAVERS
In June 2021, my husband, Pat, and I began our trek on the Great American Rail-Trail ® in Seattle, Washington, at the western end of the 3,700-mile developing route. We cycled over mountains and past deserts and farmland. We rode through cities and countless small towns. We crossed over or cycled along dozens of rivers. Whenever we needed help, someone always extended a hand. On Aug. 24, when we reached the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., we stood in silence, honoring our accomplishment and those whose foresight led to the creation of the Great American.
OHIO Amish Country Friends Holmes County Trail
IDAHO + MONTANA Just Follow the Tracks NorPac Trail
Learn more about the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail: greatamerican railtrail.org .
One of our favorite experiences actually took place toward the end of our trip. Thanks to a helpful stranger and the expertise and generosity of an Amish family in Glenmont, Ohio, what could have been an all-around disastrous day became one with unexpected treasures. We gained a better understanding of Amish culture, forged new friendships and were able to complete our journey on the Great American Rail-Trail. On a steep hill outside of Glenmont, Shevonne’s bicycle refused to shift, forcing her to push it for miles. This wasn’t the first time her bicycle had faltered, and she was in tears. A passerby took us to a local Amish- owned bicycle shop, whereupon the owner quickly identified the problem. “You need a new cassette, which I can replace. It isn’t the correct one, so cycling uphill might be challenging.” Given predicted thunderstorms, he invited us to camp there overnight. That evening and the following morning, we shared time together with him and his family— learning much about their customs. In turn, they were curious about how we happened to come to them that day. “It all began when a tree fell along our route on the Holmes County Trail, and we had to detour!” said Pat. (And what a lucky detour it was!) •
On the NorPac Trail, after cycling on the trail in Idaho to the top of Lookout Pass (elevation 4,710 feet) at the Idaho–Montana border, we were ready for 14 miles of coasting into Saltese, Montana. Inside the ski lodge at Lookout Pass, we asked an employee about the route down, which includes a section that travels through the Borax Tunnel. “The U.S. Forest Service closed the tunnel yesterday because it’s in danger of collapsing. Your only way down is to cycle on I-90,” she said. “I am not going to cycle the Interstate while semis thunder past me,” Shevonne said, to which the employee replied, “Well, then you’re stuck.” Another employee suggested we attempt to find the correct ATV trail shortcut (there were many) to guide us around the tunnel safely. We opted to give this plan a try. As we slowly cycled on the rock-strewn trail, a family of ATV riders, in full gear and helmets, appeared from the opposite direction. We flagged them down and asked if they went through the closed tunnel. “Oh, no,” they said. “We followed the tunnel detour through some other trails. Our tire tracks will still be vis - ible. Follow them and you will be fine.” And in the end, we were fine—and exhausted. •
PHOTO: Shevonne and Pat Travers at Lookout Pass on the NorPac Trail
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE AND OTHER TRAILS, CHECK OUT TRAILLINK.COM .
RAILS TO TRAILS FALL 2022
Along the 285-mile Palouse to Cascades trail in Washington, the town of Rosalia was a gem. We camped in a beautiful town park and had lively conversations at the Red Brick Café. The park featured mature trees, a ball field and a swimming pool. In the evening, a girls’ softball game brought out the entire town. While eating breakfast the next day at WASHINGTON Small-Town Charms … and Emmys Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
Idaho A Taste of Huckleberries Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
In Harrison, Idaho, we were introduced to the huckleberry, a round, purple tart fruit that grows at higher elevations. We purchased muffins from two women selling huckleberry products as a fundraiser. “Huckleberries were once everywhere in Idaho, growing after our forested lands had been clear-cut,” they shared, adding that since clear-cutting is no longer supported, there are now far fewer berries. Washington South Cle Elum Depot Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail At the South Cle Elum Depot in Washington, one of three crew-changing stations on the former Milwaukee Road, we uncovered more railroad history. After dining outdoors in the mid-day sun on smoked pork ribs and cornbread from the depot’s restaurant, we walked through the former railroad yard, reading interpretive signs and admiring the former residences of the crew and substation operators. Indiana Star(ke) Trek North Judson Erie Trail The Constellation of Starke, the Prairie Trails Club and the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum have added a unique feature to the North Judson Erie Trail in Indiana. It was intriguing as we cycled to find our solar system on signage that has been set up in scale, to the actual planets’ sizes and distances between them, as they are separated in outer space. Ohio Riding Through History Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail This 90-mile trail follows the route of a historical canal, constructed in the 1820s, where mules towed barges on the Ohio River from Portsmouth to Cleveland. We cycled past several former locks, had lunch in the historic town of Bolivar and traveled through the site of Fort Laurens, the only Revolutionary War fort located in what would become the state of Ohio. Washington, D.C. Photo Finish National Mall We arrived at the U.S. Capitol eager for a photo to commemorate our accomplishment. We asked a tall young man dressed in yellow shorts and blue running shoes if he would take our picture. “Where are you from?” we asked. “Moscow,” he answered. As we wrapped up our journey, we reflected on the diversity of the Great American—a route that truly unites all of us.
the café, we heard horrific stories about the recent Malden wildfire and met more new friends, including Rudy, a kind gentleman in his 90s. “I won two Emmys for a television program I produced,” he said. “I traveled back roads across the country, interviewing folks.” Moments later, he went to his truck and brought in his two dusty Emmy awards! •
IOWA (Big) Bulls and Birds T-Bone Trail
After cycling on the T-Bone Trail in Iowa, named as such because farmers once rode with their steers to market on the former rail line, we arrived in Audubon. We first stopped to admire Albert, known as the world’s largest bull. He is 28 feet tall and made of 45 tons of concrete. We cycled to the town center, which commemorates John James Audubon, the famous ornithologist, artist and painter. Here, we found statues of Audubon prominently displayed in the town square. Several of his “Birds of America” illustrations, replicated in ceramic tile by artist Clint Hansen, line the brick sidewalks. •
IDAHO Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
On the eastern side of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho, Wallace’s railroad history came alive for us at the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum, which once served as home to employees of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. We saw the railroad agent’s room, talked on a real telephone from 1908, and learned that men’s and women’s waiting rooms were separate because behaviors society attributed to men back then (e.g., smoking, profanity) were considered offensive to women. We also saw the only remaining flag from Presi - dent Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to Wallace when he arrived on the Northern Pacific and left on the Union Pacific. •
FALL 2022 RAILS TO TRAILS
Please go a global search of quotations marks and consistentize. Some are straight and some are curly.
REDEFINING A REGION ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Eventually spanning 600 miles with 45 trails, Great Rivers Greenway’s River Ring is redefining neighborhood connectivity, outdoor life and commerce in the St. Louis region, while reconnecting residents to a forgotten but powerful past. Learn more: greatriversgreenway.org . • View a map of the network on the inside back cover.
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In August of 1876, voters in the St. Louis region narrowly decided to separate the city from the county, and this division has arguably been as elemental to the region as Provel cheese on pizza or Cardinal red on a baseball jersey. Many incredible neighborhoods and destina - tions developed across both the city and county boundaries, said Todd Antoine, chief of planning and projects with Great Rivers Greenway ( greatriversgreenway.org ), but they did so as a “collection of islands.” Antoine grew up in Chesterfield, about 25 min - utes west of downtown St. Louis. On Great Rivers Greenway’s project map, green dots indicate that Chesterfield will one day be directly connected to downtown St. Louis by multiuse trails, building upon the 128 miles that are already linking many of those neighborhoods together. Since 2000, when voters in the city of St. Louis, as well as in St. Louis and St. Charles coun - ties, collectively approved a sales tax dedicated to trails and parks, Great Rivers Greenway has grown into one of the country’s major trail-system stewards. The organization employs 31 people, Antoine said, and the staff works with hundreds of partners across the area to improve and expand a trail network that users say is central to how they now define St. Louis. “Without the greenway network, this city wouldn’t be what it is,” said Taylor March, pro - grams director of Trailnet ( trailnet.org ), a promi - nent St. Louis bike-ped advocacy nonprofit. March was on a mid-July weekend ride with his 4-year-old Marcella when he spotted Antoine walking with me on part of Grant’s Trail ( rtc.li/gravois-grants-trail ), a 12-mile segment of the network that was a 2022 nominee for the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame ( railstotrails.org/ halloffame ). “It’s really, really important that Great Rivers Greenway is in existence and has the funding that they do to build up that network. It is our all-ages and all-abilities network, and it’s the place where we can come ride, and she’s gonna feel safe.”
“It is our
all-ages and all-abilities network, and it's the place where we can come ride, and [my 4-year-old daughter] is gonna feel safe.” Taylor March, Programs Director, Trailnet
St. Louis’ Burgeoning River Ring Trail Network Is Reconnecting People and Neighborhoods, Creating New Economic
600 MILES Eventual total length of the Great Rivers Greenway trail network 45 No. of total envisioned, connected trails along the Great Rivers Greenway network
Opportunities and Reviving the City’s Forgotten History
BY CORY MATTESON
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GREAT RIVERS GREENWAY ST. LOUIS
A Great Connector Antoine met me on a scorching Saturday morning at the Mysun Charitable Foundation Trailhead along Grant’s Trail, which has been incorporated into the Gravois Greenway ( rtc.li/gravois-grants-trail ). The temperature that day later peaked at 102, just a degree shy of the St. Louis July 16 record. Still, the vast parking lot at the trailhead was about half full, with most of the Saturday morning runners and cyclists aiming south as they set off. There was ample shade in that direction as well as some signature St. Louis scenery around the bend. The trail passes near the estate of the Busch family, now known as Grant’s Farm ( grantsfarm.com ) and home of Budweiser Clydesdales and hundreds of other animals. Two summers ago, just months into the pandemic, Antoine helped cut a virtual ribbon to open the section of the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail that heads northeast from the trailhead. Soon after the ribbon-cutting, flood waters receded enough to allow crews to install the last two bridge sections linking the Gravois with the River des Peres Greenway ( rtc.li/river-des-peres-greenway ), creating a 22-mile continuous path. Having that many miles of protected pathway was a game-changer for Sean Stueve, who lives about five minutes from the Mysun trailhead and has been using it ever since a friend told him about the parking lot. Stueve uses a wheelchair and rides the trails in an arm-powered three-wheeled bike. He said he pedals anywhere from 10 miles total to as far as the trailhead at Holmes and Leffingwell and back. It’s a welcome differ - ence from riding city streets when he lived on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. “I was riding around neighborhoods,” he said. “And being this low, it’s kind of dangerous.” The protected trail lets him focus on his exercise, and on the scenery, rather than drivers. "It’s actually, surprisingly, a lot like this,” Stueve said as he faced an area that featured a canopy of trees in one direction and a burgeoning natural-habitat restoration project planted atop a former driving range in the other. “There are a few little neighborhoods, but it doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of a city." As Antoine and I walked on the Gravois, a chorus of “On your left” alerts grew as bike after bike passed us. It was music to his ears. Over half a million people use this greenway annually, and Antoine said that the years-long effort to get the Gravois and the River des Peres green - ways to connect will hopefully serve as “an aha moment
THE GREAT RIVERS GREENWAY TRAIL NETWORK IS PROVIDING SAFE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WALKING AND BICYCLING ACROSS THE ST. LOUIS REGION.
for the region to see,” because there are more connec - tions in the works and still more on the wish list. The greenway network offers about 128 miles currently and has roughly 200 more miles in the planning stage. Eventually, the greenway team hopes to provide the St. Louis area with about 600 miles of protected paths across a total of 45 greenways. Together they will form what the team envisions as a “river ring” of trails that hug the Mississippi and Missouri, build north-south and east-west connections through St. Louis and the surrounding counties, and connect more of the St. Louis area directly to the 240-mile state- spanning Katy Trail State Park ( rtc.li/katy-trail-sp ) and eventually the 144-mile Rock Island Trail. The Busch ( rtc.li/busch-greenway ) and Boschert ( rtc.li/ boschert-greenway ) greenways already connect to it. The River Ring, when fully developed, will eventually link St. Louis and St. Charles counties to the greater Madison County Transit trail system ( mcttrails.org ) on the Illinois side of the river, building a system that will be over a quarter of the length of the mighty 2,340-mile-long river it crosses. One of the biggest Great Rivers Greenway projects to date is now underway; it promises to build important connections through several metro St. Louis communities, which proponents say will create vital economic opportunities while also providing trail users with a portal to learn about one St. Louis neighborhood that was swept away. Gateway to a Neighborhood’s Erased History Author and historian Vivian Gibson was standing on the steps of a nearly century-old building that was once the city’s second-oldest Black high school and now anchors the Harris-Stowe State University campus. A young man
PHOTO: Along the Gravois Greenway: Grant's Trail, which connects green space, schools, neighborhoods, historic sites and other destinations across 12+ miles between Kirkwood and St. Louis
$7.7 MILLION Annual flood- damage costs avoided by protecting land along the Meramec Greenway 500,000+ No. of trail users on the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail annually
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REDEFINING A REGION
MERAMEC GREENWAY AND FLOODING MITIGATION IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY When Taylor March, programs director of Trailnet, stopped to talk about Great Rivers Greenway’s growing River Ring on a blazing, cloudless mid-July morning, flooding mitigation was one of the first things he mentioned when asked about the importance of the trail network. “As somebody that lives just off the Mississippi and the River des Peres, that’s a really important component as well,” he said. A few weeks after that conversation, thousands of St. Lou- is-area residents endured a historic downpour that flooded parts of the city and surrounding counties. The greenway network helped absorb some of the floodwaters. The Meramec Greenway ( rtc.li/meramec-greenway ), which parallels its namesake river, is a prime example cited by the Great Rivers Greenway team. St. Louis County has dedicated space along the winding 108-mile river to rec- reational and natural preservation offerings. The nonprofit group Resources for the Future ( rff.org ) estimated that by protecting the land along the Meramec rather than develop- ing it, the county saves about $7.7 million in annual avoided flood damage. Last spring, parts of the Meramec Greenway in Fenton, Sunset Hills and Kirkwood were underwater. Lonny Boring with Great Rivers Greenway told residents that, while it was unfortunate that the trail was partially closed, it was serving part of its purpose. "You may not hear as much about how it floods now, because homes and clubhouses that used to get dam- aged by the Meramec have been removed,” Boring said, according to the Webster-Kirkwood Times . “What's there now as a greenway trails and recreation area is more suitable for a floodplain." •
“I don't know about the other perspectives, but for Black people, for me, it's a chance to shine the camera back on us, that we were here.” Vivian Gibson, Author and Historian, on the developing Brickline Greenway Market Street segment
walked up to the Dr. Henry Givens Jr. Administration Building and tried to open the door on a Saturday. No luck. “Are you a student here?” Gibson asked. “Yes, ma’am.” “Do you know that this was a historic school in a historic community, this building?” “Yes, ma’am. This used to be a teachers college.” “Before that it was a high school in a Black community that doesn’t exist anymore. Before the teachers college. So look it up—Vashon High School in Mill Creek Valley.” “Yes, ma’am.” “OK, thank you, darlin’,” Gibson said to him, and then turned to me. “And that’s what you have to do.” Gibson, author of “The Last Children of Mill Creek” ( rtc.li/last-children-mill-creek ), will share the history of the former neighborhood of more than 20,000 Black St. Louisans with those who ask, and those who need to know it. The community was bulldozed in the late 1950s in the name of urban renewal, and there are few signs left of what once stood there. The Brickline Greenway ( rtc.li/brickline-greenway ) project will change that. The Brickline is envisioned as a trail network that will eventually connect 14 city neighborhoods over the span of about 20 miles of walking and bike paths. Along with providing connections, the Great Rivers Greenway team also views the Brickline Greenway as a way to create equitable opportunities for the residents it will serve. The portion that will run through what is now known as Downtown West is among the active projects, and in the design stage. It features a protected walking and bi - cycling path that will travel from the Harris-Stowe State University campus toward Downtown, passing St. Louis’
PHOTOS: (Left) The Meramec Greenway in St. Louis County; (top) author and historian Vivian Gibson on the steps of what used to be the second-oldest Black high school in St. Louis
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new Major League Soccer stadium on Market Street. The Great Rivers Greenway team worked with St. Louis CITY SC ( stlcitysc.com/community ) to create a space that will prominently honor the former Mill Creek neighborhood. Through a public-private partnership, a set of sculptures developed by East St. Louis artist Damon Davis ( heartacheandpaint.com ) will feature quotes by former Mill Creek residents, including Gibson. Eight will be displayed just outside the stadium. “Mill Creek Valley was a thriving Black community, with businesses and nightlife, arts community and a range of socioeconomic classes,” Davis said in a state - ment last year. “The narrative of it being a blighted com - munity—it was neglected for a reason, slum-ified so that the excuse could be used to pave over it. I’m designing a series of pedestals and portals to represent hourglasses that hold time (represented by soil) still, displayed at the top. Just like the soil, we can excavate the stories of these people and put them on literal pedestals for the whole world to see, acknowledge and start a conversa - tion about their stories.” Gibson joined a group of Brickline Greenway project partners that includes Davis, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, Great Rivers Greenway CEO Susan Trautman and others because she wants people who use the mile-long path that will run on Market Street to remem - ber the community where she grew up, one that is no longer there. The high school, a Presbyterian church (one of about 40 houses of worship that dotted the neighborhood), a flour factory and an ornate laundry building that catered to white customers are the only four buildings from a 450-acres-plus neighborhood that were not razed. “White people were living there, but they knew that when one or two Black families moved in there would be white flight,” Gibson said. “That’s exactly what happened [around the turn of the century]. So it opened up and allowed the Mill Creek people to move into these gor -
geous houses, and they couldn’t even take care of them because they were too big and too expensive to heat, and within 10 years the neighborhood was floundering.” Gibson’s father, Randle Ross, moved with his family up from Arkansas during the Great Migration [which took place from about 1910 to 1970] so he could continue his education at Vashon High School. Options for Black students in his hometown stopped after the eighth grade. Gibson said her father lived in about six houses in a four-block area, “just moving from one to another to get a little bit better, a little bit better.” Redlin - ing devastated the neighborhood, and segregation limited residents’ opportunities to improve it, Gibson said. Over half the homes did not have running water at the time the wrecking balls started swinging in 1959. “My grandmother owned her house, but she got it five years before the whole place was torn down,” Gibson said. “And you can’t help but think that the white man who owned it who was her landlord knew what was coming down the pike, and he sold this house to this woman who was a domestic worker, saving her pennies for her dream to own a home. And five years later, the whole community was destroyed.” Gibson’s family moved, but she bused back to Vashon to attend middle school in its basement. She recalled walking out of the school doors at the end of those days and looking out into the community where she grew up and instead seeing what people then deemed “Hiro - shima Flats.” "A bombed-out nothing,” she recalled. “And I’m think - ing, Vashon High School? Weren’t there some houses here? What happened? I was like maybe 11. And it was just very, very confusing." Her novel looks at it from that vantage point of a child. With the Brickline Greenway Market Street segment, she wants trail users to look at Mill Creek, period. “I don’t know about the other perspectives, but for Black people, for me, it’s a chance to shine the camera
PHOTOS: (Left to right) Lower Meramec Park along
the Meramec Greenway; St. Louis Riverfront Trail; Gravois Greenway: Grant's Trail; Route 66 State Park along the Meramec Greenway
“Just like the soil, we can excavate the
stories of these people and put them on literal pedestals for the whole world to see.” St. Louis Artist Damon Davis
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