Rail-trail How To Guides

The Rails-to-Trails Library provides many useful resources about how to build rail-trails. The Art of the Rural Trail Deal seems relevant to many Kentucky trails. The common theme in it and really all rail-trail work is to build lasting relationships and cooperate with other people and groups in the community.

By many accounts, the best book on creating rail-trails is Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails: An Acquisition and Organizing Manual for Converting Rails into Trails. The book is available online in various formats and can be purchased from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The Guide to Creating a Greenway or Trail also contains practical and helpful information.

Lowering the flag

As Basil noted, this site has been figuratively flying the black flag since the Eldred v. Ashcroft supreme court ruling. It seems time to get back to normal, or at least as normal as can be expected these days.

I’m still saddened by how much was lost, but the Creative Commons provides hope for the future. The conversation and debate are improving. More people are aware of copyright issues and the public domain. Some are writing fascinating articles that challenge our views and look for the good of the people.

Aaron Swartz’s article “Why ‘Intellectual Property’ is not Property” points out that government should protect our rights against actions that endanger them, but copyright prevents a right that we’d otherwise have. His terminology guide is fun.

Pick a color

Kirk Franklin created the nifty MoreCrayons tool to help web designers more easily visualize the color palette. He recently made fixes so it works with Mozilla as well as other DHTML browsers. I found it a bit surprising that he suggests a 4,096-color Web-Smart palette instead of the traditional 216-color Web-Safe. The color depth available on even 3-year old computer systems is generally better than 256-color, so it probably is past time to be worrying about that limited palette.

Where’d that railroad go?

I just realized I haven’t mentioned the Kentucky Abandoned Railbed Inventory, which I expect will help us identify other potential railtrails like the one I mentioned yesterday. Sadly, their website has essentially no information about this fascinating project.

The project began with the creation of the Railtrail Development Office within the Department of Local Government by the 2000 Kentucky General Assembly. (See KRS 147A.250) The office is focused on preserving abandoned railroad right-of-ways in Kentucky and helping utilize them for public recreation. To that end, by June 2003 it will complete a study that inventories all abandoned rail corridors in the state and evaluate their suitability for railtrail conversion.

Last March, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation about this project by Lisa Rainey, a graduate student at the University of Kentucky who is working on it. She apparently also presented a paper at the 2002 Association of American Geographers conference about challenges of designing useful critera for the railbed inventory. Her description of the process of creating the inventory made me suspect that she had my dream job: it’s a mixture of historical research and first-hand field inspections to verify that there is indeed something there. She said that many of the early maps had been significantly inaccurate, making it even more rewarding to finally find that suspected tunnel, old station foundation, or railroad debris.

I’m looking forward to seeing the inventory. Based on the pictures and information she conveyed in her brief presentations, it should be fabulous.

Wilmore–Burgin Rail-trail?

Well, what d’ya know! I was looking at a topo map the other day and noticed that the High Bridge–Wilmore Railtrail may have a sister on the other side of the river. I suspected that since the railroad had relocated when it doubled the tracks in Jessamine County, it might have needed to do the same in Mercer County. The map shows a dotted line nicely labeled “Old Railroad Grade” that starts near the powerplant and continues on toward Burgin. It looks like about 3 miles of abandoned line. The abandonment begins about 1 ½ miles from High Bridge. I wonder if the bed is still intact.

Ice, ice, baby

The bluegrass region got slammed with a terrible ice storm on Sunday and we’re still recovering. Tree branches are broken all over the place and power lines are snapped or sagging. A radio announcement today said that nearby Woodford county still had 90% of its homes without power. Fayette county (Lexington) still has somewhere around thirty thousand homes without power, which is an improvement from the sixty thousand, but still far too many. We know too many friends and neighbors who are still without it. Thankfully, we only lost power for a couple hours on Sunday.

Kentucky Bourbon

In doing research for another rail-trail, I came across a delightful article on Kentucky Bourbon which was published in Louisville Magazine. It begins:

Fast horses, gorgeous women and potent bourbon are trademarks of the Bluegrass State. You can find out all you need to know about the first two at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, but for an inside look into the latter, we recommend a road trip.

The article describes visits to four major Kentucky bourbon distilleries. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit them for a tour, but think it would be a lot of fun.

I had been curious about the history of Austin Nichols’ Wild Turkey distillery near Tyrone because a potential rail-trail begins there. See the Anderson county trail description on the Kentucky Rails to Trails Council website. Be sure to look at the pictures of the massive railroad bridge there, too.

The bridge, known as Young’s High Bridge, or the Tyrone bridge, is occasionally mistaken for the High Bridge despite their obvious differences. The Bluegrass Railroad Museum has a page about Young’s High Bridge and a page about its history.

The proposed rail-trail between Lawrenceburg and Tyrone would be wonderful. The line has recently been abandoned. The existing bridges provide terrific (and somewhat terrifying) views of the river and surrounding area. I heard that a group called the Tyrone Bridge and Railroad Company was planning to acquire the line. I believe they are somehow related to the Bluegrass Railroad Museum, but have been unable to find any more information about them. It would make a beautiful rail-trail.

History of High Bridge

I’ve been researching the history of the Kentucky River railroad bridge called High Bridge. I believe I now have the most comprehensive resource online about the history of High Bridge. It’s been an enjoyable project; I’ve done all of the research so far using online resources and have been amazed at how much historical information is available. I delight in the fact that all photographs of the construction and later rebuilding of the bridge are out of copyright, so we can use them freely. I will be expanding the High Bridge site with additional photographs and details as I continue my research. In the meantime, enjoy learning about what may be the most important railroad bridge in the Eastern United States.