The Katy Trail — the longest rail to trail project in the US — turns 20 years old this weekend.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Judd Slivka says there’s a full roster of activities for the day in Rocheport.
Exhibits open at 1 p.m. with music, historic presentations; Governor Nixon speaks at 2 p.m., as well as Darwin Hindman, chairman of the Katy Trail Coalition, and others who have been instrumental in seeing the trail’s growth to what it is today.
The Katy Trail stretches 225 miles from St. Charles to Clinton. Slivka says there are plans to expand it further and eventually take it border to border.
About 300 thousand hikers and bicyclists hit the Katy Trail each year.
The trail’s humble beginnings date back to this day 20 years ago after the MKT Railroad — that’s Missouri – Kansas – Texas — ceased to exist in 1986. A federal program allowed states to bank the rail property for future trails.
Ted and Pat Jones contributed the initial funds to begin the trail project.
Other events and programs throughout the year include the 10th annual Katy Trail Ride, which will be held this eyar June 21 through 25 from St. Charles to Clinton. A special ticket book program will encourage people to visit every community along the trail for special prizes and incentives. Special exhibits at key trailheads will give a brief history fo the trail. Other events are being planned in cooperation with communitities along the trail.
The Katy Trail State Park was inducted into the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2008 by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. It’s also a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the American Discovery Trail and a Millennium Legacy Trail.
It passes through scenic areas and follows the Missouri River, as well as small river towns and railroad towns.
Slivka says the Katy Trail has been an economic boon to those towns, and that other states have used the Katy Trail as a model for their own trail projects.