Kansas Trails News – 2013

Nov. 18, 2013

IOLA TRAILS TO CONNECT WITH SOUTHWIND RAIL TRAIL.  Thrive Allen County has applied for a grant to build a trail from the Southwind Rail Trail to a low water bridge on Elm Creek that is fishing area. The ¼ mile trail will be built on an abandoned railroad spur just south of the historic railroad bridge. Currently, the fishing area is isolated from the rest of Iola and is only accessible via a busy highway. The new side trail will enable community residents to travel to the fishing area safely away from traffic. This makes the project especially important for Iola’s children and young adults.

Another side trail called the MOPAC Trail is also being built on an abandoned railroad bed which follows the Coon Creek Canal from the Southwind Rail Trail to downtown Iola. Special signs will point trail users to facilities in downtown Iola.

Plus, with Iola Rotary Club grant money, and the talent and equipment of local volunteers, the picnic shelter on the Southwind Rail Trail is now complete. It will be an Oasis for walkers and bikers for many years to come.

Finally, the City of Iola recently approved having their staff work with Thrive Allen County to study the feasibility of a trail on top of the levee at Riverside Park.  This levee is a loop that links to the Southwind Rail Trail in two places.  Length of the proposed trail is about one mile.

The Southwind Rail Trail division of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy maintains and manages the trail. Thrive and its partners built the Southwind Rail Trail in just one year which is a record for a Kansas rails-to-trails project.

MARY HANSON LEAVES POSITION AT NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.  Mary Hanson has left her position as Outdoor Recreation Planner with the Omaha regional office of the National Park Service to work for her husband. She was responsible for helping many trail groups in Kansas, including helping SRTC prepare the new State Rail-Trails Plan. She will be sorely missed.

EMPORIA STATE ARTICLE ON RAIL-TRAILS.  The Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University emails out articles on topics of interest to Kansas K-12 teachers which they may use in a school lesson. The fall 2013 edition of Tales Out of School  features Kansas rail-trails. See:  http://www.emporia.edu/cgps/tales/index.html

SALIDA, COLORADO: A BIKABLE COLORADO TOWN.  The town of Salida, Colorado (pop. 5,500) in the Collegiate Peaks District two hours southwest of Colorado Springs is very bikable and many residents do in fact bike around town. There are two short rail-trails and not a lot of traffic except during peak tourism season and it is flat. There are three bike shops. Many residents don’t even lock their bikes and if a bike does go missing, it can usually be found somewhere else in the small town.

KANSAS CHILDREN DYING ON BICYCLES. “On average, 168 Kansas children age 14 and younger die or are injured as a result of a cyclist crash in traffic each year…Research indicates that most fatal bike crashes occur within 1 mile of the bicyclists’ home. Teach your child to obey the rules of the road. Visit www.safekidskansas.org to review safety tips to help keep your children safe.”  (Source: “Healthy You”, Fall 2013, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas)

The Marquette Pioneer Trail was dedicated on Saturday October 26, 2013. The City added a nature trail along a dry creek in the east part of town which merges into the Marquette Pioneer Trail.

Fred Peterson, Marquette City Clerk, reports that the “City also changed the configuration of the trail. The trail now runs from the black top at 6th Avenue going west to a point just east of the metal grain elevators and then goes south on the nature trail to 5th Street and then west 4 blocks to Jackson Street and then north 2 blocks to 6th Street and then west 2 blocks on 6th Street and then north past the rodeo grounds and then west again on the railroad bed to 4th Avenue. Total length is 2.6 miles.”

The asphalt millings seem to be working well as a trail surface.

PROGRESS ON THE SUNFLOWER SF TRAIL. The Sunflower Santa Fe Trail east of Galva has been bladed. So when the Galva Friends of the Trail finished with their work day on Nov 16th this one-mile section is now ready for the limestone screening to be hauled in and the trail segment completed. When finished there will be two miles east and west of Galva. “In McPherson County, the Meadowlark Trail is a rail trail project that runs 12 miles from Hess Park, in McPherson, to the Valkommen Trail in Lindsborg. Currently the first four miles north of McPherson are finished, and the trail is passable in primitive condition for two miles south of Lindsborg. The trail also crosses the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway in Lindsborg.” (Source: Kansas! Magazine, Winter 2013).

REDBUD TRAIL UPDATE. David Levy with the group developing the Redbud Trail between Augusta and Andover reports the following:

“We wrapped up the season with our fourth work day on the trail two weeks ago.  We have had solid attendance each work day, about 20-25 people.   Also, we just took delivery of some signs that we will be putting up in Andover where major roads cross the trail.  We used grant money from the Central Kansas Community Foundation to pay for the signs, and the City of Andover is going to put them up for us.  The goal of the signs is to promote awareness of the Redbud Trail in Andover and hopefully increase usage.”

HOME ON THE RANGE CABIN NATURE TRAIL.  The 1872 cabin of Dr. Brewster Higley, author of the famous folk song “Home on the Range”, has been restored: “A massive restoration of the cabin, including the loft, was completed in July…Work continues on the development of a nature trail that will be finished in time for the cabin’s re-dedication during a three-day celebration on October 3-5, 2014.”  Information can be found at www.thehomeontherange.com (Source: Kansas! Magazine, Winter 2013)



Sept. 20, 2013


USA TODAY August 7, 2013


KANSAS Topeka: The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has awarded $2 million for development of 16 recreational trails projects. The largest award was for $900,000 to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy for use on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. In addition, the Kaw Nation was awarded $350,000 for the Allegawho Project, and $31,000 was awarded for a B-29 bomber museum trail in Pratt.
The funds will be used to match the $1.5 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant KDWPT received to build the rail-trail. The Kansas National Guard will use the $2.4 million to complete the 117-mile trail. The Kaw Nation received $350,000 to build trails on the Allegawho Park southeast of Council Grove. The Flint Hills Nature Trail will provide access to the park and its trails.  

7th Annual Conference

September 25-26, 2013
Ramada Downtown Hotel & Convention Center, Topeka, Kansas 

Keynote presentations include researchers Paul and Ruth Ann Atchley from the University of Kansas, sharing their innovative work on how “hiking makes you smarter,” and international journalist Jay Walljasper, who will inspire with lessons from around the world on “25 ways to improve your community.” Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will have a booth at which volunteers will hand out brochures and maps.

RAIL-TRAIL PROPOSED FOR SE KANSAS.  Steve and Cathy Bolek, co-owners of a Route 66 gift shop in Baxter Springs, have proposed building a ten-mile rail-trail linking Baxter Springs, Riverton and Galena using abandoned rail right-of-ways. Funding would come from grants and donations. The trail could be called the Historic Route 66 Trail since it follows that route. Source: SEK Voice.com August 13, 2013.  

SUNFLOWER RAIL-TRAILS CONSERVANCY ANNUAL MEETING.  Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its 14th Annual Meeting on October 5 in beautiful downtown Cottonwood Falls in the heart of the Flint Hills. The meeting will begin at 11:00 am in the Grand Central Hotel. Carol O’Neal has been nominated to be re-elected to the Board for a three-year term. Elizabeth Stewart with the Sunflower Foundation will provide information on the $55,000 trail grants the foundation now makes. Also, to be discussed will be a rails-to-trails guide for Kansas volunteers. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend.  

LITTLE-USED RAIL LINES COULD BECOME RAIL-TRAILS.  By using the last Kansas Rail Plan (2005-6) and obtaining updated information from KDOT, Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy has identified several rail lines that have little rail traffic: Garden Plain-Kingman (24.6 miles) which is out of service; Garden City-Scott City (34.4 miles) which is technically active, but operationally out of service; Jetmore-Larned (46.2 miles) which has fewer than one train a week; Kingman-Pratt (35.5 miles) which has one train a week; Winfield-Oxford (9.1 mi.) which has fewer than one train a week; and Wellington-Honnewell (18.2 miles) which has one train a week. Climate science models are now forecasting severe and prolonged droughts in Western Kansas, thereby reducing crop yields and shipping on rail lines. Thus, some of these lines could be abandoned and become candidates for railbanking. SRTC does not advocate the abandonment of rail lines because rail is more energy efficient than shipping by truck, but if a rail line goes out of service, the Conservancy will work to conserve it through railbanking/interim trail use.  

August 1, 2013

GREAT PLAINS TRAIL TO GO THROUGH WESTERN KANSAS.  A long-distance trail is being built on the Great Plains from Canada’s Grasslands National Park to Guadalupe Mts. National Park in Texas. The trail will traverse grasslands in Montana, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska, Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado, Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado, Kiowa National Grassland in northern New Mexico and Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas. A portion of the planned hiking trail will go through the rugged and scenic Arikaree Breaks in Northwest Kansas and possibly the Cimarron National Grasslands in Southwest Kansas. It will take decades to build the Great Plains Trail due to the distance and lack of population plus portions of the route are on private lands. Also, due to the low population density, maintenance will also be a challenge. For more information: www.greatplainstrail.org

BLUE RIVER RAIL TRAIL LISTED IN “TOP TEN RAIL-TRAILS FOR AMERICAN HISTORY”. The national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has listed the Blue River Rail Trail in its “Top 10 Rail-trails for American History”. Below is the commentary: 9. Blue River Rail Trail – Kansas

Established as a trading post and ferry terminal in 1851, the city of Marysville in northern Kansas was a remarkable hub of migration and exploration, located on the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the route of the Pony Express, the St. Joe Road, the Overland Stage, the Military Road, and the Otoe-Missouria Trail. The old Pony Express Station there still stands. British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who stopped there in 1860, once called Marysville “a country-town which thrives by selling whiskey to ruffians of all descriptions.” Don’t let that deter you. In honor of Independence Day, Marysville will throw “An Old Fashioned 4th of July” party, which includes a Walk-Ride-Run along the Blue River Rail Trail. This 8.7-mile (Editor’s note: actually it is 13 miles long) rail-trail meanders along the course of the Big Blue River, the origin of the city’s settlement.

Trail map, info: www.traillink.com/trail/blue-river-rail-trail.aspx

RAIL FLAT CARS FOR BRIDGES.  Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy recently researched obtaining an 89’ rail flat car to be used for a bridge which was burned west of Pomona on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. It would cost $16,000 delivered which is far cheaper than building a new bridge. The Conservancy will consult with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas National Guard about using the flat car as they will be completing the FHNT next year.

 FIBER OPTICS CABLE LEASES ALONG RAIL-TRAILS. A Kansas rails-to-trails organization is entering into a fiber optics lease along a rail-trail. Typically such leases are five-feet wide and the one-time payment is 16 cents/square foot. Many rail-trail corridors are not held in fee simple, but are only easements which don’t grant subsurface rights (retained by the adjacent landowners). That is why it is necessary to include language in lease agreements holding the trail manager harmless for any claims by adjacents. Plus, the trail manager should state in the agreement it doesn’t warrant it retains any subsurface rights.

 FEWER YOUNG PEOPLE DRIVING “Since 1983 there was a substantial reduction in the percentage of young persons with a driver’s license from 46.2 percent in 1983 to 28.7 percent in 2010.”  (Source: “Have Americans Hit Peak Travel?”, Discussion Paper 2012.14, Revised Feb. 2013, International Transport Forum, Robert Puentes, The Brookings Institution).

Reasons for this decline are many, including younger people living closer to work and school, higher unemployment among younger people and the high cost of driving. So, many younger people are walking or biking or using public transit to get to school or work whether by choice or necessity.

 300-MILE OHIO TO ERIE TRAIL NEARING COMPLETION. “The Ohio to Erie Trail travels 300 miles from the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati to the rolling hills of rural Amish country and on to the sandy shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. When the trail is finally complete—more than 70 percent of it is open for use—it will be the longest paved off-road trail in the country.”  Excerpted from Rails to Trails magazine, Fall 2013.

The trail will connect the 110-mile Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail with the 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail. The trail is expected to be completed within 10-15 years.

EVERY BODY WALK INITIATIVE.  ”Every Body Walk! Is a campaign aimed at getting Americans up and moving. Through the help of our partners, we are working to spread the message that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week really can improve your overall health and prevent disease.” Join the Walking Revolution. For more information:  www.everybodywalk.org

STATE RAIL-TRAILS PLAN COMPLETED. The new State Rail-Trails Plan is now complete and available online. It is a collaborative effort by Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, KDOT’s Office of Freight and Rail, Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy and Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. Mary Hanson, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service regional office in Omaha, actually shepherded the planning process and wrote the plan. The plan will guide efforts to build an interconnected trail system in the Sunflower State.

KANSAS AND MISSOURI NOW CONNECTED BY TRAILS. Kansas and Missouri are now linked by recreational paths: the Indian Creek Streamway Trail in Johnson County, Kansas and Blue River Trail in Kansas City, Missouri are now connected. This is a major milestone as the two trails form a vital link in connecting the Flint Hills Nature Trail with the Katy Trail. Below is an excerpt from the KC Star (7-27-13): The Watchdog

Happier trails along Indian Creek

July 26

Many amateur athletes love the Kansas City area’s growing trail system. Cyclists and others get frustrated when trails close, and they eagerly await new connections. Kansas City has linked the Indian Creek Trail with the Blue River Trail in the southeast part of town. Travelers reaching the state line from Kansas can go east from the Watts Mill area, swing close to the Bannister Federal Complex and then head east-southeast through very pretty terrain to Blue River Road. Most of the trail is paved, and shelters under railroad overpasses protect trail users from flying debris.

PROPOSED ROCK CHALK PARK TRAILS. Lawrence City Commissioner Bob Schumm is proposing that 10 km of 10-foot-wide concrete trails be built in the new Rock Chalk Park in northwest Lawrence. The trails could be used for community runs and rides. The total cost would be about $2 million, but 80% of funds could possibly come from federal Transportation Alternatives monies if Congress continues funding the TA program.

PRIVATE FIRM RESTORES, CONSERVES NATURAL LANDS “The Nature Conservancy will hold the easement for the Montana property, which is currently owned by Beartooth Capital, a private firm that buys and restores land in need of conservation before reselling it.” Nature Conservancy magazine July/August 2013. This is an innovative concept for preserving natural lands. See www.beartoothcap.com.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND THE OUTDOORS SUMMIT. The 7TH Built Environment and the Outdoors Summit will be held Sept. 25-26 in Topeka. There will be sessions on trails and all trails groups can have a free booth.  For more information: www.kansasbeos.org



July 30, 2013

The Sunflower Foundation: Health Care for Kansans announces a new Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the Sunflower Trails program, as well as a change in the submission process that should enhance the experience for all applicants. The trail funding initiative is designed to support the concept of the “built environment” as a strategy to increase opportunities for outdoor physical activity and therefore reduce the prevalence of obesity. The foundation invites Kansas communities and schools to submit proposals for the development or improvement of trails.

“Since 2005, the foundation has funded more than 100 trail projects across the state. As the trails program continues to grow, we continue to grow as well,” Billie Hall, President and CEO of the Sunflower Foundation, said. “To better assist communities and schools develop a strong proposal, we have changed our RFP process to provide more guidance.”

Under the new submission process, all applicants are asked to contact Elizabeth Stewart, Ph.D., Sunflower Foundation Trails Program Officer to arrange a time for a brief discussion. Applicants will have the opportunity to go through a checklist of necessary grant tasks and receive guidance on preparing a smooth, well-developed final application.  Following the discussion, applicants that appear ready to start the process will be given a link to the appropriate online application. The links will not be publicly available on the Sunflower Foundation website. Contact information for Dr. Stewart is by phone at 785-232-3000 or 866.232.3020 or email at estewart@sunflowerfoundation.org.

Sunflower Trails RFP categories include the following:

RFP #14-101 supports the construction of community-based new trails or expansion of existing trails, minimum length of ½ mile (maximum funding $55,000).

RFP #14-102 supports the addition of improvements/enhancements such as lighting and distance signage to existing trails (maximum funding $25,000).

RFP #14-103 supports the construction of trail “connectors” in order to link existing trails or improve access to trails (maximum funding $35,000).

RFP #14-104 supports the construction of school-based new trails, minimum length of ¼ mile (maximum funding $25,000).

The deadline for all trail RFPs is Friday, November 1st at 4:00pm CST.

The mission of the Sunflower Foundation is to serve as a catalyst for improving the health of Kansans, which it supports through a program of grants and related activities.  Further details about the foundation’s programs and grants are available at www.sunflowerfoundation.org.

July 15, 2013

$2.4 MILLION TO BE INVESTED IN FLINT HILLS TRAIL! The Kansas Dept.  Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has announced it has received a $1.5 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant allocated by the Kansas Dept. of Transportation to continue development of the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Other public funds for recreational trails and private funds will make up the balance in the $2.4 million investment in the trail. Further, the Kansas National Guard will help build the 117-mile trail which may be completed by the end of 2014. This a milestone in the history of rail-trail development in Kansas. The FHNT will form the backbone of an interconnected trail system in the Sunflower State. For more information, go to:


TE GRANTS TO FUND RAIL-TRAIL PROJECTS.  KDOT has announced several federal Transportation Enhancement grants for Kansas rail-trail projects. These include:

Andover – construction of a section of the 20-mileRedbud Trailbetween 13th and 21st and 159th and Patricia Street.The section goes from the Sedgwick-Butler county line east for 1.5 miles.

Iola – construction of shared use path that will provide a community link to the Prairie Spirit Trail. This ½ mile path will utilize an abandoned rail right-of-way and provide access to central Iola.

Lawrence – extension of the Burroughs Creek Trail between K-10 and 29th Street; The current crushed limestone surface will be paved with concrete making for a 2.5-mile rail-trail.

Wichita – continuation of the Redbud Trail from Oliver Avenue to Woodlawn Avenue.

KANZA RECEIVES $25,000 GRANT FOR LANDON TRAIL. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy announced June 12 that it has received a $25,000 Recognition grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The funds will be used to help complete the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail in Shawnee County. A hard-packed, crushed limestone surface will be installed on the seven remaining miles in the county. The Conservancy also received $6,000 from the Lattner Family Foundation for the project. The goal is to complete the trail within Shawnee County by next June.

CENTRAL KANSAS CONSERVANCY RECEIVES GRANT. The Central Kansas Conservancy has received a $12,500 Recognition grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The grant will be used to help build two miles of the Meadowlark Trail which stretches between McPherson and Lindsborg.

LINKING FLINT HILLS TRAIL WITH KATY TRAIL. A KC Star editorial supports Governor Brownback’s call for linking theFlint Hills Trailwith the landmark Katy Trail:


One option is to undertake a Rails-WITH-Trails project to connect the Flint Hills Trail in Osawatomie with the MetroGreentrail network in Johnson County. Plans are to link the MetroGreen trails with the Katy Trail. This would involve building a trail within an active rail corridor. A three-wire fence (without barbs) could be used to separate trail users from railroad tracks.

SOUTHWIND RAIL TRAIL DEDICATION.Over 100 people attended the dedication ceremony for the new Southwind Rail Trail on June 8 in Iola. After brief remarks by six people, there was the ribbon-cutting followed by a bike ride/walk on the trail. The 6.5-mile trail between Iola and Humboldt connects with the Prairie Spirit Trail in Iola. The City of Iola manages 1.5 miles of the trail. The Southwind Rail Trail will be a great community and state asset to be enjoyed by people for years to come and was a collaborative effort by Allen County, Thrive Allen County, Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy and the Southwind Rail Trail Volunteers. It will also serve as a showcase as it is the first time a Kansas county has agreed to help develop and maintain a rail-trail. Now there is a 60-mile continuous rail-trail stretching from Ottawa to Humboldt.

GRANTS FOR TRAIL DEVELOPMENT The Sunflower Foundation, a statewide health foundation, is in the process of adopting a new policy which will direct more funds toward the development of long-distance trails. It is now recognized that the health value of longer recreational trails is greater than shorter trails because trail users are able to travel farther and thus exercise more. Plus, long-distance trails can generate sufficient tourism to help small towns survive.

The Sunflower Trails grants now are currently $30,000. Funding is currently only for construction costs on a reimbursement basis and grants must be matched (50/50). Fortunately, the Kansas Health Foundation of Wichita provides $25,000 Recognition grants which can be used for matching Sunflower grants. For more information, contact Elizabeth Stewart, the new Program Officer at the Sunflower Foundation at785.232.3000 extension 112,estewart@sunflowerfoundation.org. Also, visit http://www.sunflowerfoundation.org/ for more information about the grant program.

ENEL ENERGY DONATES $10,000 TO KANZA. Enel energy, an Italian renewable energy company with a US subsidiary, recent donated $10,000 to Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy to help complete the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The company owns the Caney River Wind Farm in the southern Flint Hills which was developed by TradeWind Energyof Lenexa. The grant by a renewable energy firm makes sense as rail-trails are all about conserving energy and resources and recycling old rail lines.

INTEREST BUILDING IN COMPLETING LANDON TRAIL. Interest is growing in completing the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail because it will connect Topeka with Ottawa and the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has just prepared a new project budget of $1 million to complete the trail which is now nearly completion to the Clinton Wildlife Area. Copies are being furnished to public officials. Here is a description of the trail:

The 38-mile Landon Nature trail is a particularly scenic recreational trail stretching from the popular Shunga Trail in Topeka to the Clinton Wildlife Area, Pomona Lake and on to the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail near Quenemo. The trail will be the only recreational trail in America to link the Oregon National Historic Trail with the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.  In the North, this remarkable trail follows picturesque Camp Creek with its clear, rushing water and wooded oak-hickory covered hills which provide a shady tree canopy for trail users. It should also be noted that the nature trail passes by two wetlands teeming with waterfowl, native tallgrass prairie blooming with wildflowers and two lovely waterfalls. In fact, the land surrounding the Swissvale Waterfall lies within the corridor and can be turned into a picnic area.

The trail crosses the Santa Fe Trail north of Overbrook and a side trail could be built to view trail ruts in southeast Overbrook. North of its southern terminus at Lomax, lies the historic 240-feet-long steel truss bridge over 110 Mile Creek. Very few trails in the Midwest offer the variety of scenery and history provided by the Landon Nature Trail. When completed, it will be an exceptional public asset available to everyone in the Sunflower State.

OSAWATOMIE TO RAILBANK RAIL CORRIDOR. The City Council of the City of Osawatomie has voted to railbank/conserve a Union Pacific spur to extend the Flint Hills Nature Trail into town. The Osawatomie Sports Complex will now be the eastern trailhead of the FHNT. It is expected that the railbanking will be completed by the end of the year.

SUMMER SUNFLOWER MEETING IN WAMEGO. The summer meeting of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be held on Saturday August 17 in Wamego. The meeting will begin at 11:00 am at the Imperial Palace and last until 2:00 pm. A field trip to the route of the planned Wa-Sag-Man Trail will follow the meeting. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend.

May 28, 2013

SOUTHWIND RAIL TRAIL DEDICATION.  There will be an official opening of the new 6.5-mile Southwind Rail Trail (southern extension of Prairie Spirit, from Iola to Humboldt) on Saturday, June 8th, 2:00 p.m. at the north of the Riverside Park at W. Bruner Street (west of State St.) in Iola. June 8th is National Outdoors Day.  Billie Hall and her staff from the Sunflower Foundation will be there. With completion of the Southwind Rail Trail, there is now a 59-mile continuous rail-trail from Ottawa to Humboldt.


Ruth Holliday with Prairie Travelers, Inc. reports the following:

“We have started a new group working in conjunction with Prairie Travelers but eventually will be its own non-profit by the name of AARTI.  This stands for “Andover Augusta Rail Trail Initiative.”  We have the blessing of Butler County and Andover and the approval of the Augusta mayor and maybe a few on the council by not 100%.  A core group of 8 to 10 of us have been meeting since November and been to several Andover City Council meetings making sure they were behind us and helping with some letters of endorsement for the last of the SAFETEA-LU application for the City of Andover to pave the first mile or so in their City limits.  

AARTI held an informational meeting this week to keep trail supporters in touch with our needs, intentions and goals on the Butler County section of the Redbud Trail!  We had a good turnout of 29 which included a good array of locals as well as City and County officials.  As a gesture of goodwill we are holding our first workday May 4th to help Andover with their in town section with trash pickup and tree trimming.”

“We have a facebook page and e-mail or with questions this e-mail for prairie travelers is good as well.  David Levy, a local Andoverite is spearheading the endeavor.  I also live in Andover so am helping with the effort.”

e-mail:  aartitrail@gmail.com

facebook:  www.facebook.com/andoveraugusta.railtrailinitiative

PROPOSED TRAIL TO LINK FLINT HILLS TRAIL WITH MELVERN LAKE.  Bill Patterson of Lyndon reports, “I sent the governor the attached letter asking him to authorize KDOT to allow building a trail on the old road bed of Highway 75 in Osage County. The trail would be approximately 8 miles in length and connect Melvern Lake to the Flint Hills Trail north of Lyndon. Many years ago 75 Highway was moved to the west and the old roadbed is unused and growing up in grass and weeds

I would encourage your organization to contact the governor as well and ask that this land be allowed to be converted to a trail.

Editor’s note: There are federal funds available to increase access to federal lands.

HISTORIC TRAIL SITES ON NOMINATED FOR NATIONAL REGISTER.   Two sites along historic trails have been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.

Alcove Spring—Blue Rapids vicinity, Marshall County. Alcove Spring is one of the best known campsites along the Oregon and California trails, as it is featured prominently in diaries of emigrants as they awaited favorable crossing conditions on the nearby Big Blue River. The Donner-Reed party members, who later found themselves trapped by snowy conditions in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, camped here in May 1846…This amendment seeks to include two areas of intact trail segments to the west and north of the spring. Including the spring and trail segments, the amended boundary incorporates 246 acres.

Scott Spring—Westmoreland vicinity, Pott County. Scott Spring was a reliable water source near the Rock Creek Crossing of the Oregon and California trails. Its location near this crossing made it a suitable campground while west-bound travelers waited for high waters to recede. The nominated site contains the location of the spring itself, as well as an intact trail segment that includes at least three distinct swales.

(Excerpted from Kansas Preservation, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2013).

TIPS ON SURFACING RAIL-TRAILS.  Bill Vanderwall, the project manager for the Prairie Sunset Trail, states:

Don’t blade off the rock ballast, but blade it toward the center to form a crown in the center. Otherwise there will be drainage problems. Then install blonde crushed limestone screenings 1.5 inch size, 3 inches deep. It packs well into the ballast rock. Then put a layer (although not enough due to financial constraints) of gray limestone course screenings, 2 inches, as a top coat. Each layer needs graded and rolled.


According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) effort to collect data on travel by the American public, 13 percent of children five to 14 years old usually walked or biked to school compared with 48 percent of students in 1969. Conversely, 12 percent of children arrived at school by private automobile in 1969, and, by 2009, this number increased to 44 percent. Rates of school bus ridership to school over this same 40-year span showed the least change, increasing from 38 to 40 percent.

While long-term trends demonstrate a decline in walking and bicycling to school, preliminary analysis of 2009 NHTS travel diary data reveals the percent of five through 14-year olds walking and bicycling to school in the U.S. has remained stable at about 12 percent over the last 15 years. This is hopeful news for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs – sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. (Excerpted from Safe Routes to School Partnership news release, April 8, 2010).


The previous decline can be attributed to the loss of neighborhood schools, increased traffic along streets used to access schools (partly due to poor planning), and a concern about the safety of children. The Walking School Bus program is helping to counter the latter. It involves having parents walk a group of schoolchildren to school.

REDBUD TRAIL PROJECT TO START IN JULY.  Construction will start on a two-mile section of the ten-mile Redbud Trail being developed in Wichita. The new segment stretches between Hillside and Oliver Streets. An environmental study is underway for the next phase which is Oliver to Woodlawn. However, this section may not be completed for five years.

ORIGINAL BUFFALO BILL IN KANSAS. William Mathewson (1830-1916) was the original “Buffalo Bill” in Kansas. He was a noted trapper and trader in central Kansas.  In 1853 he established a trading post at the Great Bend on the Arkansas River and later Cow Creek southwest of present-day McPherson near the Santa Fe Trail. His hand dug well is still visible at the Cow Creek site.

Mathewson earned the nickname “Buffalo Bill,” given by the numerous settlers he saved from starvation during the winter of 1860-1861. The drought of 1860 had ruined the crops that the settlers had planted leaving them without a reserve food source for the winter. Hundreds of settlers came to Mathewson from September to March asking the expert hunter to provide them with food. He complied by supplying them with buffalo meat, which he hunted without concern for his own safety or welfare, and for which he refused payment. He killed as many as 80 buffalo in a single day for the settlers.

Through his 26 years as a trader and trapper he also earned the respect and trust of most of the Native Americans he encountered. His Indian name was “Long-Bearded Dangerous Man,” which was given to him by the Kiowa chieftain, Satanta, after the warrior had received a severe beating from the trader at the Cow Creek post in 1861. Mathewson used the trust he had cultivated with the Indians to gather delegations of them in 1865 to negotiate the Little Arkansas Treaty and in 1867 for the Medicine Lodge Council meeting, the latter resulted in Indian lands being consolidated into smaller tracts and opened up Kansas for railroad expansion. (Kansapedia, Kansas Historical Society).

The second Buffalo Bill (William Cody) was riding for the Pony Express during the 1860-61 period and didn’t supply buffalo meat for the Army and Kansas Pacific Railroad until 1868-72.

ABILENE DESIGNATED ONE OF BEST SMALL TOWNS IN AMERICA. The Smithonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, has designated Abilene, Kansas as the 17th best small town in America where the “Old Chisholm Trail stopped, home of Eisenhower’s presidential museum” (Smithsonian magazine, April 2013). The institution looked at towns under 15,000 that have “exceptional concentrations of museums, art galleries, orchestras, theaters, historic sites and other cultural blessings.” Abilene has a Wild West Old Town: Abilene Old Town. Wild Bill Hickok was briefly marshal there and the Museum of Independent Telephony.

BIKE LANE FOR KU’S JAYHAWK BLVD. Over the next four summers, KU is going to redesign and rebuild its famous Jayhawk Blvd. Parking will be removed and shade trees will be restored as they were 40 years ago. As part of the remake, a bike lane will be put in the middle of the street. This is because a bike lane along the curbs would result in bikes having to pass buses stopped. The whole project is $11 million provided by Kansas taxpayers.


April 8, 2013

A KANSAS RAIL-TRAIL FIRST: COUNTY TO MANAGE NEW SOUTHWIND RAIL TRAIL. Jane Tweedy with the Southwind Rail Trail group building the 6.5-mile Southwind Rail Trail between Iola and Humboldt reports that the Allen County Commission voted unanimously to partner with the group to manage and maintain the Southwind Rail Trail. This is the first time a county in Kansas has agreed to help maintain and manage a rail-trail. The County will also help build the trail. The rail-trail was railbanked by Sunflower Rail-Trail Conservancy in 2011. It is hoped that the trail will be completed by this summer and celebration will be held on National Trails Day (June 1) at Humboldt.

ARMADILLO ENCOUNTERED ON TRAIL NEAR RANTOUL. Trail users recently encountered an armadillo on the Flint Hills Nature Trail near Rantoul. The critters are being sighted more often in Kansas as temperatures increase and winters are milder. It should be noted that it is best to leave them alone because they carry diseases which can be transmitted to humans.

BIKE LANE FOR KU’S JAYHAWK BLVD. Over the next four summers, KU is going to redesign and rebuild its famous Jayhawk Blvd. Parking will be removed and shade trees will be restored as they were 40 years ago. As part of the remake, a bike lane will be put in the middle of the street. This is because a bike lane along the curbs would result in bikes having to pass buses stopped. The whole project is $11 million provided by Kansas taxpayers.

LANDON TRAIL AT OVERBROOK. Karl Umscheid, Overbrook Division Superintendent with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that the two-mile section of the Landon Nature Trail going south from Overbrook should be completed this spring. He and his crew are just about done with grading the former railroad bed. Next, crushed limestone screenings suitable for walkers, bicyclists and wheelchair users and a large, wooden trailhead sign will be installed. The trail will pass near the Overbrook Cemetery where Santa Fe Trail ruts or swales may still be seen. “We hope the Overbrook community will now rally behind the project,” offered Umscheid. With their help we can build the recreational trail to Pomona Lake and on to the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail.”

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY JUNE 1. There will be several National Trails Day celebrations on rail-trails on June 1. One celebration will be held at 9:00 am in Overbrook at the new Landon Nature Trail trailhead. The public is invited to bike or hike on the new two-mile section in celebration of its opening. Details of other celebrations will posted in the May issue of Kansas Trails News.

HIKING, BACKPACKING AND HORSEBACK-RIDING IN THE FLINT HILLS. The following is taken from a new website:

A unique partnership among ranchers, recreation and the hospitality services providers to bring you a brand new, hassle-free vacation and recreation experience in the Kansas Flint Hills.

Not your ordinary vacation or recreation experience, Flint Hills Vacations is designed to be valuable – fun, educational and relaxing.

With a single call or email, Flint Hills Vacations organizes your experience of the Flint Hills to satisfy your interests and your budget. So, come and . . .

  • Walk or hike the Flint Hills as a guest of one of our rancher-members and enjoy the comfort and friendliness of our accommodations member while experiencing the unique cuisine of the Flint Hills
  • Ride your own horse or let us provide you one to experience the Flint Hills from horseback at one or more of our rancher-members’ ranches
  • Enjoy time with our ranchers and learn about how their way of life while enjoying the beautiful outdoors and learning about how they conserve the Flint Hills
  • Watch beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the rolling hills . . and bring your telescope to stargaze the beautiful unpolluted night skies
  • Listen to the prairie birds sing and enjoy the beauty of the wild flowers and the tallgrass

We are in the process of bringing you the best, fun-filled, relaxing and educational recreation and vacation experience you have ever had!

Please stay tuned! We shall complete construction soon. Meanwhile, if you need information, send email to info@flinthillsvacations.com.

The following is taken from Kansas Outdoors, KDWPT, 2013:

“A popular place to saddle up for guided rides (or hikes) in the Flint Hills near Beaumont operates on 10,000 acres of ranchland owned by the historic Ferrell and Squier ranches. www.ridetheflinthills.com. Also popular among the Flint Hills is the Flying W ranch. From cattle drives to overnight stays, this ranch outfit is a must-see destination.” www.flinthillsflyingw.com

To horseback-ride in the scenic Smoky Hills at Kanopolis State Park, check out the Groverland Stage Stop: www.groverlandstagestop.com

ARTICLE ABOUT FHNT IN KANSAS OUTDOORS MAGAZINE. The new Kansas Outdoors magazine (2013) published by KDWPT has an excellent article about the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The article, written by Kimberly Winter Stern, quotes former president Doug Walker is quoted extensively. Below are some quotations:

“It’s a picturesque and serene journey for hikers, runners, bicyclists and horseback riders, smack in the middle of the fabled prairie deemed one of Kansas’ many assets.”

“The Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy’s mission is to have the FHNT connect population centers and historic Kansas sites and landscapes. ‘This truly is a natural for Kansas,” says Walker. ‘There aren’t many places in the country with all of the pieces necessary for a true rail-trail experience.”

“Imagine the Flint Hills Nature Trail as a patchwork quilt that stitches together diverse scenery, including sweeping vistas of unbroken countryside, abundant indigenous fauna and flora, lush farmland, rushing creeks and burbling streams and canopies of ancient oak, sycamore and hickory trees.”

‘The trail is still under development; sections are completed incrementally as the KRTC receives donations and volunteer assistance. Walker assures an uncluttered, almost spiritual, experience on the 60-plus miles currently open for us.”

“It’s indescribable to participate in the Flint Hills this way,” says Walker. “People who walk or bike the trail or explore it on horseback are blown away.”

PATH LAWRENCE – PARTNERS IN ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION AND HEALTH. A new organization has formed in Lawrence to promote an interconnected trails system. Currently Lawrence has several separate recreational paths that don’t connect. A co-founder, architect Mike Myers, reports that he would like to see a dedicated funding source so that every year another trail segment is built. A new website is up but is a work-in-progress: http://www.pathlawrence.org/.

LITTLE FREE LIBRARY ALONG BOISE BIKE PATH. Last summer, Jordan Liebich, 11, transformed an abandoned newspaper rack into a Little Free Libraryand parked it outside Riverstone International School in Boise, Idaho. Jordan painted the box bright blue and stenciled the school’s otter mascot on the side. The sixth-grader says the Little Free Library, situated on a popular bike path, makes it “free and easy” for kids to grab a book, especially in the summertime. “Reading opens up more of the world and opportunities,” says the book-a-day reader. “It makes you think more imaginatively. It makes you smarter. It makes you take in situations differently.”

RIGHT OF PUBLIC ACCESS IN SWEDEN. “The Right of Public Access is an ancient Swedish custom (common law) that allows everyone to roam freely in the countryside, even on private property, as long as you behave responsibly and remain out of view and earshot of residential buildings.” (Sweden 2013, www.visitsweden.com).

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that people of Kansas don’t even have the right to float on the state’s rivers and streams even though the water is owned by the public. This is contrary to Missouri where one can float on all of the streams and even camp or picnic on gravel or sandbars.


A trails advocate sent the following: I wanted to alert you about a transmission wire project that will impact all five of Kansas’ National Historic Trails (Santa Fe, Oregon, California, Pony Express, and Lewis & Clark) plus unknown recreational trails. My organization is especially watching this project because of possible impacts at Alcove Spring between Blue Rapids & Marysville. Here are the relevant links:



Feb. 8, 2013


Joye Walker reports that the 13-mile Meadowlark Trail stretching between McPherson to Lindsborg now has limestone screenings on the first two miles going north from McPherson. This is a milestone for this longtime rails-to-trails project. It will connect with the Välkommen Trail in Lindsborg.

IOLA-HUMBOLDT TRAIL HAS NEW NAME. Jay Kretzmeier reports the following: “Update from the South – Most all of the brush and trees have been cleared between Humboldt & Iola. This is a photo of today’s work crew. Volunteers have worked almost every Saturday since mid-May. Bridge fencing will soon start. Grading may also be close at hand. While the actual ownership is not theirs, the volunteers have voted to name this section the “Southwind Rail Trail” South denoting its position to the PSRT, Southwind because of those prevailing breezes, and Southwind because this geographic area already has that designation by the Kansas State University Office of Extension.

The Iola Rotary Club is applying for a Rotary grant and if funded will build a shelter on the trail somewhere close to the middle. It will also be built with all volunteer labor so that part may take a little longer to finish. I am more enthused each passing week. The bridge over Elm Creek is so unique people may come long distances just to see it. This project seems to be a model project of grant resources, limited government support, and community volunteers coming together. I hope it may serve as an example for other projects across the state.”

Update: David Toland, Executive Director of Thrive Allen County, reports that the rock ballast has been graded 6.5-mile rail corridor and crushed limestone will be installed this spring. The railings on done on the Rock Creek bridge and the remaining bridge will have railings installed soon. It is hoped to have the trail completed by National Trails Day in June. Clark Coan with Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy (which holds the railbanking to the trail corridor) states that “no rail-trail project in Kansas has been completed this fast and is a remarkable feat. The volunteers should be congratulated on their hard work.”

COURT DECISION ON KANSAS REVERSION LAW. John Rosacker with KDOT’s Rail and Freight Unit reports that there has been a court decision that nullifies part of Kansas Railroad Law. Previously all fully abandoned rail corridors reverted to adjoiners, but an appeals court ruled that if the rail corridor was owned in fee simple by the railroad it does not revert. For example, there is a line between McCracken and Healy which has been abandoned and the railroad has filed a release to all claims to the title, but apparently the railroad still owns the corridor. This could impact other rail corridors, especially those acquired through federal land grants.

BIG MULTI-SITE EVENT PROPOSED FOR NATIONAL TRAILS DAY. A state official has proposed that large multi-site events be held on National Trails Day on the Prairie Spirit Trail, Flint Hills Nature Trail and Landon Nature Trail and other trails to promote the state’s rail-trails. Hundreds of trails enthusiasts would participate in events. One such location could be the intersection of the Prairie Spirit Trail and Flint Hills Trail in Ottawa. It’s even possible that Governor Brownback and his family could walk or ride on a rail-trail.

CONTEST TO BUILD TRAILS TO CENTRAL KC PROPOSED. Dale Crawford with KanBikeWalk has proposed that Kansas and Missouri enter into a friendly contest to see which state can build connecting trails from the Katy Trail and Flint Hills Nature Trail to central Kansas City, Missouri.

KAW HERITAGE PARK IMPROVEMENTS PROPOSED. The Kaw Nation that they had applied for a TE grant to construct huts, a visitor pavilion and establish primitive camping sites at the Al-a-ga-wa-ho Park. The Flint Hills Nature Trail runs through the park, 3.5 miles southeast of Council Grove. This will allow trail users to camp when walking or riding on the 117-mile rail-trail.

DOGS ON LEASHES ON TRAILS. The general policy for the state’s rail-trails is to require that dogs be on leashes. This policy has been adopted for many reasons: loose dogs can frighten children or horses. Plus, recently a dog was caught in an illegal trap placed within a rail-trail corridor.

RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM GRANT APPLICATIONS. 29 applications were submitted for National Recreational Trails Program grants in November. Below are the rail-trail projects:

Blue River Rail Trail (6.5 mi.), Marshall Co, $63,050 (additional grants)

Katy Hike & Bike Trail, Chanute, $56,000

Mo-Pac Trail, Iola, $250,700

Flint Hills Nature Trail, Osawatomie-Council Grove, $1,000,000

Landon Nature Trail, Richland-Overbrook, $500,000

A total of $4.6 was requested, but only $2 million is available. Those who do not receive funding can apply again next year.

LODGING ALONG THE STATE’S TRAILS. Kareen King with Kanza reports that it is possible to rent rooms in private homes (or even rent small houses or cabins) along the Sunflower State’s trails. She is planning to list her house near Osage City and the Flint Hills Nature Trail on http://www.airbnb.com/. Long-distance trail users will be able to find lodging by using this website.


Check out this new website http://www.flinthillsadventures.com/ :

A unique partnership among ranchers, recreation and the hospitality services providers to bring you a brand new, hassle-free vacation and recreation experience in the Kansas Flint Hills.

Not your ordinary vacation or recreation experience, Flint Hills Vacations is designed to be valuable – fun, educational and relaxing.

With a single call or email, Flint Hills Vacations organizes your experience of the Flint Hills to satisfy your interests and your budget. So, come and . . .

  • Walk or hike the Flint Hills as a guest of one of our rancher-members and enjoy the comfort and friendliness of our accommodations member while experiencing the unique cuisine of the Flint Hills
  • Ride your own horse or let us provide you one to experience the Flint Hills from horseback at one or more of our rancher-members’ ranches
  • Enjoy time with our ranchers and learn about how their way of life while enjoying the beautiful outdoors and learning about how they conserve the Flint Hills
  • Watch beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the rolling hills . . and bring your telescope to stargaze the beautiful unpolluted night skies
  • Listen to the prairie birds sing and enjoy the beauty of the wild flowers and the tallgrass

We are in the process of bringing you the best, fun-filled, relaxing and educational recreation and vacation experience you have ever had!

Please stay tuned! We shall complete construction soon. Meanwhile, if you need information, send email to info@flinthillsvacations.com.


Students building shelter for cyclists

By Associated Press

Construction students at two colleges and a high school are spearheading a project to make the southeastern Kansas community of Pittsburg a more welcoming place for hundreds of cross-country bicycle riders who stop in the city each year.

Pittsburg is located along the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, a roughly 4,200-mile route created in 1976 when thousands of riders celebrated the nation’s bicentennial by pedaling from Yorktown, Va., to Astoria, Ore.

Hundreds of riders still stream through Pittsburg each spring and summer as they follow the trail. But the city has no designated camping site, shower or restroom for them, leading those who choose to stop in the city to pitch tents in Lincoln Park and shower at the Pittsburg Aquatic Center or the YMCA if those buildings are open.

Those who pull into Pittsburg in 2013 will find some new amenities: a shower-restroom building and a special pavilion being built this fall by construction management and masonry students at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg High School and Fort Scott Community College.

The restrooms and pavilion are located in the city-owned RV Park. A volunteer group called Pittsburg Beautiful donated the $25,000 needed for the work, and the city is getting new amenities built with free labor.

“It’s a win-win all the way around,” said Pittsburg Parks and Recreation director Kim Vogel.

The shower-restroom building will have equipment for cyclists to wash and repair their bikes. Bench seating and electric outlets in the pavilion will let the riders relax while charging cellphones, cameras and laptops. A shaded, grassy area between the two structures will make a great camping spot, Vogel said.

Seniors in Pittsburg State’s construction management program are acting as project managers, planning the schedule, estimating costs and directing the work.

“It’s the culmination of all we’ve learned for the past four years,” said Adam Shoemaker, a Pittsburg State construction management major who is leading the work on the shower house.

Nacoma Oehme, head masonry instructor at Fort Scott Community College, calls it a great partnership for everyone involved.

“It’s good for the students to get them out of the shop on actually building a project on the job site, and it’s good for the community because they’re getting free labor and a quality building done right that should serve them well,” Oehme said.

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044