We like to call rail-trails the ultimate recycling project. They preserve thousands of miles of historical rail lines and uphold the railroad legacy of transporting millions of people and goods across the country. Countless hours were invested in the construction and maintenance of those original railbeds, and rail-trails keep the corridors intact and in the public domain for future generations to use and enjoy.
It's no wonder, then, that several rail-trails are featured in a new book documenting preservation successes in the United States. Published by the American Planning Association, Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes, by Rick Pruetz, explores 24 case histories, ranging from rural stories in New Mexico to more urban park systems and projects in Minneapolis and Long Island, N.Y.
Another featured rail-trail is the historical Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. Originally constructed across the Mississippi River in 1883, the bridge remained a working rail line until 1978 and was transformed into a pedestrian crossing in 1994. Today, the restored structure helps connect more than 50 miles of trails around the region and offers great views of Saint Anthony Falls and the river's elaborate lock and dam system.
It's great to see these rail-trails--and others, including the West County Trail in Sonoma County, Calif.--highlighted as successful and enduring examples of planning and preservation!
If you'd like to read more of Lasting Value, you can order a copy through the APA.