A former railroad line will become a new trail for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists and will be the latest adventure tourism attraction for Eastern Kentucky. Known as the Dawkins Line, the 36-mile stretch runs through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties and will be managed by the Kentucky State Parks. The trail will be developed in phases. Once complete, the Dawkins Line will be the longest rail-to-trail project in the state.
“This trail will help attract tourists to Eastern Kentucky and will be a boost to the local tourism economy,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release. “This trail will not only promote adventure tourism, but it will also be a community asset that promotes fitness and health.”
First Lady Jane Beshear said the former railroad line will make an excellent multi-use trail.
“This new trail gives us a great opportunity to show guests the beauty of Eastern Kentucky,” Mrs. Beshear said. “Other places have successfully converted rail lines to trails, and I am confident this will become a popular attraction for this area.”
Another successful rails-to-trails project is in southwest Virginia -- the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail. The trail in Virginia has led to new businesses and shops with a positive economic impact.
The Kentucky State Parks have received a multi-county coal severance grant of $500,000 to help support the trail development. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is providing the Department of Parks with up to $2 million in transportation program funding for the transformation of the Dawkins Line into a multi-use trail.
State funding for the property was initially provided by the 2006 General Assembly. The purchase of the property from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group was finalized in the spring of 2011.
The project has support from trail organizations and is expected to help develop the local tourism economy. The trail name comes from the Dawkins Lumber Company, which developed the rail line in the early 1900s for timber.