The ideas have been rolling like racing tires on dry
I'm talking about the responses to my Sept. 26 column on Katy
Trail guidebooks in which I asked for suggestions on bringing
Missouri's Katy Trail State Park to the Kansas City area.
The Katy hiking/biking trail, which was converted from old
railroad lines, runs 225 miles from St. Charles to Clinton, but
Missouri's Department of Natural Resources hopes to bring the Katy
to KC someday. Possible route: an abandoned Rock Island rail line
from Windsor to Pleasant Hill.
I was intrigued by a suggestion from Janet Mason, who wants the
DNR to allow equine use throughout the state park. Personally, I
think that goes a bit far. Currently, horseback riding is allowed
only on the Katy section between Sedalia's fairgrounds and the town
But I agree with Mason that the equine area could be expanded.
And Windsor just happens to be on the existing 26.5-mile equine
section. So if the DNR were to use that Rock Island line from
Windsor to Pleasant Hill, why not designate the first 25 miles of it
as being open to horseback riding?
That's consistent with the spirit of the region. Everyone would
agree that Kansas City, in mindset as well as geography, is a more
western town than St. Louis.
Ray Scott, founder of the http://www.BikeKatyTrail.com
Web site, said he is extremely interested in the idea of extending
the Katy Trail to KC.
You really can't appreciate what a valuable resource the Katy
Trail is until you have it nearby where it's easy to reach, Scott
wrote me in an e-mail. Many Missourians tend to think of the Katy
Trail as just another state park, but it really is a big tourist
draw and has a national reputation among cyclists.
Scott noted that getting a trail built costs money, especially on
the Katy scale. And while the attitude may be that most trails don't
generate revenue for a city or region, it's not true with the Katy;
along the current route, restaurants and bed-and-breakfast inns have
been doing well.
The key to extending the Katy Trail is making the local leaders
realize that most typical bike paths will not generate revenue,
but if you link into the Katy Trail you will generate
People will actually come from Indiana, Texas,
California, even Europe and spend their money at your local
businesses. This is happening right now in Marthasville, Rocheport,
Defiance and other small towns along the Katy Trail.
So Scott ends with this suggestion: If you hear from any civic
leaders who really do want to make this a reality and have the
ability to do so, please put them in touch with the Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy ( http://www.railtrails.org).
This national organization has been involved in many rail-trail
projects, and they know the ins and outs of how to really make these
Tom Gryska noted that keeping the Katy out of harm's (i.e.,
motorists') way would be crucial.
A good terminus location would be Harrisonville. It is close
enough to KC but somewhat out of range of KC traffic.
But Jack Dryden thinks the Katy could be brought into his town,
Belton, or even into KC itself:
There used to be two railroad lines that went through Belton to
Clinton the old Frisco line and the Leaky Roof line. Both
have been abandoned, I think, which might present a problem.
it might still be feasible, with cooperation from land owners, to
run the trail from Clinton through Harrisonville, through Peculiar,
through Belton, through Grandview and connect with the Trolley Track
Trail (in Kansas City), Dryden wrote.
In Belton the trail would go
through the center of the old
town past the city park, past the historical Main Street area
where the old Frisco Depot used to be then pass by the former
Richards-Gebaur Air Base and past Grandview's Main Street. If this
route hasn't been considered
I think it would be an excellent
route to bring the trail to Kansas City.
Dryden readily admits such a route could be a boon to his
business, the Dryden Drug Company at 401 Main St. in Belton.
Our back entrance
faces the old Frisco right of way. The trail
would go right by our drugstore, and we would sell lots and lots of
Hey, cyclists need carbs. Maybe Dryden Drug could be a western
version of Katy Bike Rental in Defiance, which offers not only
mechanical fixes for cyclists, but also Ted Drewes frozen
I like Dryden's idea for another reason: I think the state should
at least check into extending the Katy from Clinton to Kansas
City, not Windsor to KC. According to the DNR, that old Rock Island
line from Windsor is a good bet. But Windsor is about 17 miles
northeast of Clinton, the trail's current western terminus. An
extension from Windsor to KC essentially would turn the existing
Windsor-to-Clinton leg into a spur.
Meanwhile, if you haven't experienced the Katy, drive to Clinton
one of fall weekends and walk or cycle a few miles of it. Then think
about how nice it would be to have it closer to home.
Once again this week, the Writers Place Poetry Series brings two
poets to the stage, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Johnson County Central
Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St. in Overland Park.
This episode features Wyatt Townley, author of The Breathing
Field, and Curtis Bauer, author of Fence Line.
Both these poets have received noteworthy honors. In 2002 Townley
nabbed the Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Kansas
Arts Commission. Bauer's Fence Line is the most recent winner
of BkMk Press' John Ciardi Prize for Poetry.