Group seeks to convert old railroad line to recreation trail


PIERRE (AP) – Advocates of a new outdoor recreational project in southeast South Dakota are asking state regulators for permission to convert an old railroad line into a trail for cyclists, hikers and horseback riders.

The Friends of the Tabor to Platte Rail to Trail nonprofit say the project would improve recreational opportunities, public health and the economy in the region.

“Cyclists continuously look for new trails to ride,” said Robert Foley, the nonprofit's secretary. “Would this help diversify this area into more ecotourism?”

A 75-mile portion of the old Napa-to-Platte line built in the early 1900s and operated by Milwaukee Road would be converted. South Dakota purchased the line in 1980 after the company went bankrupt.

“It goes through the western Prairie Coteau area along the east bank of the Missouri River in Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties. So it’s rolling countryside,” Foley said.

The trail would cross waterways and trestle bridges as it passes through agricultural land and small towns. Users could stop at the trailheads in Platte, Ravinia, Lake Andes and Geddes, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

The nonprofit group would be responsible for building, funding, insuring and maintaining the trail. It’s already raising money and hopes to apply for a $2 million federal grant.

The South Dakota State Railroad Board and Railroad Authority will get an update on the project during a public meeting Wednesday.

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