When was the First Rail Trail?

General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.

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When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby donredhead » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:49 am

Could it be---Alexandria to Roslyn in DC? or The Bike and Hike Trail in Cleveland that opened up in 1972? Or the trail that Follows Chicago's waterfront that was old railroad wharves on Lake Michigan that was done in the 1960s
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby CarterB » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:19 am

I guess it depends on whether you mean 'official' rail trail. (meaning state or local gov't funded or approved)
Many abandoned ROW's became 'trails' just by being abandoned, and then used by local residents. For example, many parts of the North Jersey Rapid Transit ROW in NJ has been used as a trail since it's abandonment in 1928. Many parts of its ROW still are unofficially used as 'trails'.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby Nukengineer » Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:33 pm

It is most likely the Elroy - Sparta trail in Wisconsin. At least their website says so. http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/history.htm At the very bottom of the page, it says the rails were removed in 1964 and the trail opened in 1965. Regardless, its a fun trail to ride - three tunnels!
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby Munchabunch » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:48 am

The Cathedral Aisle Trail in Aiken, SC has been open since September 1939.
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby SemperFidelis » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:42 am

People in Lake Ariel, PA talk about thier parents and parent's parents having used the grade of the old Gravity Railroad for hiking (an old Boy Scout spoke about this once referencing the 1910s) and horse riding (stable owners) since it was replaced by a conventional rail line in the 1850s. As an unofficial trail, I'd imagine it would be hard to get much older than that.
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby Scalziand » Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:16 pm

Through the years the prosperity of the [New York and New England Railroad] rail line ebbed and flowed, but by 1931 passenger service had run its course. Fifty years after it began, it was discontinued. Freight traffic, including the regular milk trains, hung on through the 1930s but finally fell victim to the depression. The line was abandoned in 1939.

In 1943, four years after the abandonment, a 10.3 mile section [from Naugatuck to Southbury] was purchased and gifted to the State by Dr. Charles L. Larkin. His gift was for the express purposes of establishing a state park and bridle trail – recreation for the very animals the railroads worked so hard to keep off the tracks 60 years earlier.

http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=434808

Not the oldest trail in this thread, but it's up there.
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Re: When was the First Rail Trail?

Postby electricron » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:30 am

The J. Manley Robbins Trail is a former railroad line for the "Montour," a 10-ton narrow gauge locomotive used for carrying iron ore betwen deposits and furnaces. The line was converted to a bicycle path in the 1890's, making it the oldest 'Rails to Trails' in the country. The trail now connects with additional trails and recreation amenities at the Hess Field Complex.
http://susquehannagreenway.org/danville
1890s will be hard to beat. :wink:
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