Don't even ask, this truck is one of those "going to get around to fixin it up, someday" trucks on a 144-mile piece of abandoned rail road from Windsor to Beaufort on the long-gone Rock Island Railroad, which went bankrupt in the 80s, was acquired in 1999, and now donated to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for use as a bike trail
That rail was originally laid in 1937.
Now, a salvage crew is working seven days a week to reclaim it for the spandex set. Soon, cyclists will probably be pedaling through picturesque quiet little towns that many have never heard of.
Cyclists and hikers will get a quiet trail loaded with long tunnels and bridges, including spans over the Gasconade and Osage rivers. It’s supposed to link with the Katy Trail, touted as the longest “completed” rail-trail in the country.
In its 25th year, the Katy Trail is on the right of way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, which stopped running in 1986. It extends 240 miles between Clinton and St. Charles County.
“What we are looking at is a 450-mile loop that would be unlike any trail in the world,” said Chrysa Niewald, president of Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc., a fundraising group and liaison among landowners, towns, Ameren and the state.
The old railroad bridge over the Osage River
As with the Katy Trail project, there is opposition to the Rock Island. Most of the land for the railroad was originally obtained by eminent domain and privately executed easements with landowners, many of them farmers. If the rail failed, the landowners would regain full use of the property.
Congress changed that in the 1980s with the option to preserve rail corridors for potential future use.
“We are aware of the landowners who are obviously not in favor of it,” said Niewald, head of the trail advocacy group. “It’s hard to make people understand that this a federal legal option and Ameren as the railroad owner has chosen this path.”
Hundreds of landowners in Missouri have filed suit against the federal government since the Surface Transportation Board in February granted interim recreational trail use of the 144-mile section of the former Rock Island line.
“We are not anti-trail, we just want our clients to be paid for their property taken to build this trail,” said Meghan Largent, a Clayton-based lawyer with the firm Arent Fox. “Some of our clients want the trail, some don’t.”
WHY? Why would a railroad be given over to hikers, bikers, and maybe even horse riders?
Well, that's sort of interesting... it turns out that the company donating it to the state was responsible for a flood. Yeah, you probably didn't hear about the Taum Sauk Upper Reservoir bursting a retaining wall, the flood that wiped out the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park's superintendent's house.
A 5-million-ton torrent crashed down Proffit Mountain Wednesday, sweeping away the home of a sleeping state park superintendent and seriously injuring his children.
Nearly 80 percent of the water in the storage basin of AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant drained in a matter of minutes around 5:30 a.m. when a retaining wall burst. The water erased the home of Johnson Shut-Ins State Park superintendent Jerry Toops, stranding him in a tree and carrying his wife and children almost 500 yards before depositing them near a stand of trees.
So, the bike path project cost will be $15.5 million for the 47.5-mile section of the Rock Island Trail opening as a park in 2016, of which $8.5 million will be paid for with Ameren settlement funds from the Taum Sauk reservoir failure, according to the state.