Ameren: Department of Natural Resources accepts ownership of Rock Island Corridor on December 14


JEFFERSON CITY, MO, DEC. 14, 2021 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today announced it is accepting ownership of the Rock Island Corridor. The department plans to develop the 144-mile old Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Corridor, which runs from Windsor to Beaufort, Missouri, into a public recreational trail. Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, donated the property at no cost to the state.

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources made the announcement during an outdoor ceremony at Rock Island Park in Eldon. Governor Mike Parson and representatives from Ameren Missouri, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri State Parks Foundation and other elected officials participated in the acceptance ceremony.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources currently owns and operates the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail, a 47-mile multi-use trail located in the Rock Island Corridor from Windsor to Pleasant Hill. The development of this additional 144 mile section of the Rock Island Corridor from Windsor to Beaufort will provide visitors with the opportunity to participate in family-friendly outdoor recreation and benefit many rural communities including Versailles, Eldon, Eugene, Meta, Argyle, Freeburg, Belle, Bland, Owensville, Rosebud, Gerald, Leslie and Beaufort.

“With the recent awarding of the Economic Development Administration grant of $ 2.7 million and other potential funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, donations and grants, the Department of Resources Natural Resources is able to accept the Rock Island Corridor today, ”said Dru Buntin, director of the Department of Natural Resources.

“With over 30 years of experience with the Katy Trail, we want the Rock Island Trail to be a good neighbor, and we envision Rock Island to complement the Katy,” said David Kelly, Director of the Division of Missouri State Parks . “I look forward to working with landowners and communities along the trail as development progresses. ”

“The Rock Island Trail will be our state’s second rail-to-trail state park system and will complement our existing Katy Trail,” said Governor Parson. “Like the Katy Trail, we expect the Rock Island Trail to help grow local economies and small businesses, create jobs, and provide Missouri with another great outdoor recreational resource. Missouri’s tourism industry is strong and projects like this only help it grow. We are proud to support the development of the Rock Island Trail.

“We are delighted to officially transfer ownership of the Rock Island Trail to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, bringing the state closer to transforming the corridor into a world-class recreation destination,” said Mark Birk, senior vice president of customers and electrical operations in Ameren Missouri. “For years, many partners, including the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri State Parks Foundation, the Missouri Parks Association, Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc., Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, Missourians for Responsible Transportation and all the united communities along the corridor pleaded in favor of this visionary project. We are inspired by the trail’s potential to offer Missourians and visitors a new way to experience our beautiful state, bringing tourism dollars and economic development to communities along the corridor. ”

The ministry entered into an interim trail use agreement with the Missouri Central Railroad Company in 2019 to lay rails in this section of the Rock Island corridor. Railbanking, created in 1983 as an amendment to Article 8 (d) of the National Trail Network Act, is a voluntary agreement between a railway company and a trail agency to use an out of service rail corridor as a trail until a railroad may again need the corridor for rail service. This temporary use of railway corridors has preserved thousands of kilometers of railway corridors that would otherwise have been abandoned.

The development of the trail will be done in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor presents different characteristics and challenges. Missouri State Parks will begin holding town halls in communities along the trail in January to gather public input and understand the needs and goals of each community and landowners along the corridor.

More information on the Rock Island Corridor is available at mostateparks.com.


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