Day Ninety-seven

History of Rails to Trails

I knew that the Old Plank Road Trail near my home was constructed from an old railroad line.  Once I started walking it more frequently and writing about it here, I learned of the “Rails-to-Trails” movement, mostly from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which I have recently joined.

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Today, we checked out the Illinois Prairie Path, one of the first railroad lines in the country converted into a public trail.  May Theilgaard Watts, a naturalist, wrote to the editor of the Chicago Tribune in 1963 and suggested the unused railroad line be turned into a “footpath.”  Her letter started a movement that set a precedent for others in the country to do the same.

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This trail is about sixty miles long with several branches and connections to other trails.  We drove to Elmhurst, Illinois, and parked near the trail.  We didn’t walk very far, because my son wasn’t feeling well, but we walked enough to notice how popular this crushed limestone trail was with runners, bikers, and other walkers.  We also spent a little time exploring the town of Elmhurst and enjoyed that as well.  Although it’s a bit of a drive from our home, we’d like to come back and check out more of this classic trail!

Good day, good walk!

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