If, as Wallace Stegner said, the national park is "the best idea we
ever had," the rail-trail is certainly a close runner-up. Part
transportation corridor, part park, the rail-trail has
revolutionized the way America creates high-quality, car-free
pathways for bicyclists, runners, walkers, equestrians, and more.
It was only a few decades after railroad barons had run roughshod
over America's economy and politics that they began to shed nearly
one hundred thousand miles of unneeded railroad corridor. At the
same time, bicyclists were being so thoroughly pushed off
ever-more-intimidating roadways they came close to extinction.
Through political organizing and lawyerly grit, an unlikely,
formerly marginalized advocacy arose, seized on seemingly worthless
strips of land, and created a resource that is treasured by
millions of Americans today for recreation, purposeful travel,
tourism, conservation, and historical interpretation.From Rails to
Trails is the fascinating tale of the rails-to-trails movement as
well as a consideration of what the continued creation of
rail-trails means for the future of Americans' health, nonmotorized
transportation networks, and communities across the country.