Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was deeply saddened to learn that Rail-Trail Champion Hilda P. Jones—known to family members, friends and colleagues as “Pat”—passed away on Dec. 17 at her home in Williamsburg, Missouri.
Pat and her husband, the late Edward Jones, who died in 1990, are known for their important contributions to the conservation movement, including supporting the creation of two epic rail-trails in Missouri: the 240-mile Katy Trail State Park and the developing 144-mile Rock Island Trail.
When an idea to recycle a 200-mile piece of the out-of-service Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad corridor began to build momentum in the late 1980s, Pat and Ted bought the right-of-way for $2.2 million and donated it to the state to build the trail. Inspired by Ted's ride on America’s first rail-trail, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin, the Joneses helped the Katy Trail make the enormous leap from grand vision to concrete reality. For their passion and contributions to this beloved community asset, which has helped revitalize communities across Missouri, the Joneses were named Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions by RTC.
Pat and Ted also were early supporters of efforts to transform Missouri's Rock Island Line corridor into a rail-trail and community asset in the 1980s. In 2014, Ameren Corporation agreed to donate the 144 miles of disused rail corridor needed to create the Rock Island Trail, and the state is currently in discussions on the fate of this would-be game-changer for Missouri communities. We encourage Missouri State Parks to make this trail—which would serve as a wonderful honor to Pat and Edward Jones' legacy—into a trail.
To help urge Missouri to create this vital community asset, send your comments of support to Gov. Michael Parson and other state officials.