In 1910, the railroad known as the "Milwaukee Road" stretched more than 1,000 miles from Chicago to Seattle; yet, by 1980, most of the corridor had become abandoned. Washington State purchased their portion of the corridor at the time of abandonment, and today it is known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.
In Idaho and Montana, hundreds of miles of the Milwaukee Road’s core route are yet to be developed as trail. In 2007, RTC convened the inaugural Milwaukee Road and Connecting Trails Symposium to bring dozens of cross-state representatives together and explore the opportunities and challenges that exist for trail development along the route. To further catalyze trail advocates, RTC completed two comprehensive corridor assessment and feasibility studies, which included historical and property research, state legal reviews, funding analyses, maps and photo inventories. Due to these efforts as well as continued technical assistance, more than 35 miles of rail-trail have opened to the public.