RTC President Keith Laughlin hangs a Hall of Fame sign on the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri.
Inducted rail-trails receive trail signage announcing the honor. The signs come in two sizes. Some are two-sided and used as trailside markers; others are larger and more frequently placed at trailheads (above). One sign on the Illinois Prairie Path is even six feet tall and four feet wide! Keep an eye out for these black-and-silver markers the next time you're out on a Hall of Fame trail. Also, if you ever visit our national office in Washington, D.C, we have an actual hall—or rather a wall—commemorating each Hall of Fame trail with a photo.
Trail of the Month: June 2010 The Rail-Trail Hall of Fame
In 2007, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) began canvassing the country to spotlight 25 of the most memorable and influential rail-trails as part of the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.
We've queried experts and RTC members, trail planners and trail users. We've pored over reviews and scoured our photo archives, paged through records and of course our own memories. We've weighed merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution.
Yet with more than 1,600 rail-trails in the pool nationwide, paring down the many worthy Hall of Fame candidates has proven a great challenge.
So far, we've named 15, with 10 more to go. The five-year program is timed to culminate in June 2011—when RTC will celebrate its 25th Anniversary—and provide a showcase for the countless styles and strengths of rail-trails.
Some are pioneers of the rail-trail movement, blazing pathways without precedent in the 1960s and '70s. Many lead us on remote wilderness getaways, while others offer easy escapes for city dwellers or heavily used commuter pipelines. Some drop jaws with their stunning landscapes, while others turn heads with the attractions they link and the neighborhoods they bring to life. Some are legends for the lengths they cover, while others break records for the millions of users they service every year. Some have helped preserve the storied history of railroad expansion, revitalizing towns that trains once propped up and populated. Others are redefining what trails can do for modern communities, offering everything from a safe route to school to a place to train for a marathon.
Each Hall of Fame pathway adds something unique to the rail-trail catalogue. But despite their many distinctions, these trails do share a common thread: They've all helped set an inspiring standard for hundreds of other trails to follow.
So this June, in honor of National Trails Day, we are highlighting the first 15 trails named to the Hall of Fame. We'll be announcing the final 10 in the lead-up to our 25th Anniversary celebration a year from now. It's going to be a busy time for RTC and rail-trail development throughout the country. Stay tuned in the coming months as we unveil more plans and preparations to mark a quarter-century of rail-trail growth and accomplishments.