For lovers of American cinema, the scene in the 1986 film Stand By Mewhere the young protagonists sprint madly across a towering rail trestle (right) to narrowly escape an approaching train is one of those classic moments.
Now, Americans of all ages will be able to reenact that famous scene in a much more leisurely (and safe) fashion, with the announcement last week that an agreement has been struck to purchase the out-of-service section of rail corridor in northeast California and convert it into a rail-trail.
The trail will be known as the Great Shasta Rail Trail (GSRT). The right-of-way along the 80-mile section of the McCloud Railway between McCloud, in Siskiyou County, and Burney, in Shasta County, was purchased from the property's owner, 4 Rails, Inc., by the Shasta Land Trust (SLT). Since 2009, SLT has been working with a coalition of local partners, Save Burley Falls, McCloud Local First Network, the Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership and the McCloud Trail Association, with the express intention of converting the corridor into a public recreation trail.
This railroad right-of-way spans more than 80 miles through the forested mountains of northern California and is a significant property in the history of McCloud, Burney and the surrounding area.
"It's not every day we get to announce the railbanking of 80 miles of corridor for a new rail-trail!" says a very excited Steve Schweigerdt, manager of trail development in Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Western Regional Office. "This trail will be a crown jewel across northeastern California."
According to SLT Executive Director Ben Miles, 4 Rails, Inc. agreed on a purchase price well below its appraised fair market value, representing a considerable donation of value by the seller.
The multiuse GSRT will benefit Siskiyou and Shasta counties and the rural communities of McCloud and Burney by stimulating tourism and recreation-related commerce, increasing neighboring property values, and attracting new businesses.
The GSRT will connect with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, recreational facilities on adjacent national forest land, and will link to trails around the McCloud River Falls and McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.
SLT and its team of supporters is confident of raising the funds necessary to complete the purchase, and have secured a grant for more than half of the purchase price from the California Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program.
For more information, or to find out how to contribute to the project, visit www.mccloudlocalfirst.org.