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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
Boonville Bridge

I'm trying to figure out something. Why is it that people say that if they move the Boonville Bridge it threatens the survival of the Katy Trail? I didn't think that the trail used that bridge anyway. I'm just trying to understand the issue. The articles that I have read didn't really explain anything other than the poltics of the matter
posted Apr 20 2006 4:16PM - Clint Thompson, Moberly

Because the justification for the trail is a concept called "rail-banking" where old railroad beds are kept intact for future use if needed. If that is broken into pieces it no longer serves as banked railroad right of way--the cost of building a new railroad bridge would be tremendous, probably prohibitive.
posted Apr 20 2006 4:20PM - ET, Columbia

ET is correct. The legal argument is that if the trail is broken up and could never be put back
into use as a rail line, then that would mean that the contract is broken and potentially all the
land that the railroad had as an easement would then revert back to the landowners and that
means 'bye-bye trail."
posted Apr 20 2006 7:57PM - sbikes, Kansas City

....and some (not all) landowners want that land back. If one spends time in some small towns on the east end of the KATY one can get an "earful" of why the KATY is disliked in some areas. It boils down to right of eminent domain issues, and broken promises made by the Railroad to the landowners "way back when". The KATY is in my opinion the best way to utilize the former railroad....think of it as a larger, growing network of "bikeways" that get you around the country. On the other hand there is no "magic pipeline" (that I know of)from outer space to replenish fossil fuel (oil)so the supply is under any circumstances finite. That said there will come a "re-tooling" of transportation issues and last time I checked, a train can carry a lot of people and/or cargo...that bridge is a very important issue...I believe. Regards.......Mark of the Dalton Boys
posted Apr 21 2006 7:10AM - Mark of the Dalton Boys, Austin, TX/Columbia, MO.

Hear, hear to all the above comments.
I just wish some of the anti-trail folks would come to realize that without the trail, a lot of these little towns would wither away.

I doubt if any of the current landowners were even alive when the original deals were struck. I understand that the original agreements called for the landowners to regain the strip of land if the railroad was ever abandoned, but in reality, I doubt that it would make an ounce of difference economically to any of them. My feeling is that many of these complaining landowners ever got their relatively narrow strips of land back, all they would do with it is park junked cars and other garbage on it and let them rot. What a great way land-use decision.

Sorry, I will now officially climb down off my soap box. :-)
posted Apr 21 2006 2:10PM - gc, Columbia

savage24 steps forward from the crowd and ascends the soap box....

(GC, I respectfully disagree with some of your statements, but there is no flaming intended in mine.)

I have stayed silent on this topic long enough! I enjoy the Katy Trail very much and believe it is a state treasure that will continue to (slowly) grow in popularity over time. At the same time, I respect and agree with the land owners who believe they were cheated by the state and the railroad. As far as the Boonville bridge is concerned - tear it down! Two or three years after it is gone, few people riding the Katy will miss it. I'm going to wander off topic a bit, but I'll get to the Boonville bridge eventually.

As Mark stated, it's about right of eminent domain issues. It makes no difference whether the land owners would place junk cars or hog sheds on it - the original agreemant was broken and their land was taken from them without compensation. I have a cousin who is a third generation land owner on the Katy, my late uncle was an outspoken opponent of the Katy Trail (riding the trail several years ago I stayed overnight at cousins house - uncle lived on same property and stopped by - I made no mention of how I arrived at the farm!). As far as I can tell my cousin doesn't have strong feelings either way - well there is one thing: If you see a middle aged guy putt-ing down the trail around the 100 mile marker on a fourwheeler with a bucket of fencing tools, just smile, wave and keep riding. Don't stop and give him a bunch of c### about prohibited motorized vehicles. There is a difference between kids tearing up the trail on forwheelers and a farmer mending a fence.

posted Apr 23 2006 9:56AM - savage24, KC,MO

(continued from previous post.)

As the old timers like my late uncle die off, we hear less opposition to the trail but the "unfair land grab" history will always be there. Just remember that the shoe may be on the other foot some day. I doubt many of us will be alive 75 years from now when the rail- banking idea comes to fruition and plans to build a high speed passenger rail line are unveiled. Just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will ensue from the cycling community: "Not in our State Park!" "Rail-banking? that was something written back before the turn of the century to preserve the land for a bike trail; they didn't actually MEAN IT!"

Now, about that rusty old bridge in Boonville...

I agree with Doyle Childers, Director of MO DNR that the state does not have the money to make the bridge part of the trail plus maintain it from that point forward, and if they did have the money, it would be better spent extending the trail to KC. If someone out there wants to give the DNR a grant and specify that it be used to save the bridge, I'm sure they would accomodate you; DNR is not against saving the bridge - it is simply not economically feasable with there current budget.

posted Apr 23 2006 9:58AM - savage24, KC,MO

the end...
At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, I think this issue boils down to what the definitions of "intact" and "rail bed" are. Removing the bridge should not break up the rail bed and endanger the trail - it's not like the river is being sold to someone who will not allow a bridge to be built there in the future! Chances are that the old bridge would not be suitable for whatever future rail system might be built and would be replaced anyway. Sure building a new bridge would be expensive, but so will installing new ties, signal lights, crossing gates, and miles of steel rail. Does anyone know if there is a place on the Katy where the original RR bridge has been removed and a wooden structure built in its place? (The bridge immediately east of the Rocheport tunnel maybe?) If such a span exists, would it be an interruption of the rail bed?

Ray, Do I get an award/penalty for longest rant ever posted? :-)
posted Apr 23 2006 10:01AM - savage24, KC,MO

We should know the answer soon. The paper reported this was argued in Cole County last
week in the court case that is pending on this issue.
posted Apr 23 2006 10:17PM - sbikes, Kansas City

Savage24, yes that's definitely the longest post yet on any subject; thanks for giving the other side of the story. One thing you said that I'd like to expand on:

>If someone out there wants to give the DNR a grant and specify
>that it be used to save the bridge, I'm sure they would
>accomodate you; DNR is not against saving the bridge -
>it is simply not economically feasable with there current budget.

Actually that's the idea behind the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is collecting donations and pledges to refurbish the bridge. They have already raised enough for phase 1, which is about half of the overall $1 million cost to make the bridge ready for bike/pedestrian use. Anyone who would like to see the bridge saved and incorporated into the Katy Trail should visit their website. Pledges will not be collected until the legal wrangling is finished and development is approved.

For more details about the Boonville Bridge controversy and its impact on the Katy Trail, here's a page that I put together on the subject, and the Missouri Bike Federation's page on the topic.
posted Apr 24 2006 5:56AM - Ray (Webmaster)


No flame intended here, either. I enjoy exchanging views on topics like this.

Having re-read my earlier post, I might have come off too strident about the land owners. I have no problem with a farmer using the trail as access to go mend a fence or move equipment. I also think that some sort of compensation should have been worked out for the farmers.

What bothers me is the attitude that this was some huge land-grab. I guess these same folks would be ready and willing to leave their land if an Indian tribe came back and said "the original treaties weren't followed, so please vacate. Never mind that it was 200 years ago." Land-grab has different meanings in different circumstances, I guess. Also, many of these people are ready to raise the specter of the big old evil government needs to get out of my business ... until I get flooded out for the umpteenth time, then come bail me out, literally and financially.

I do agree with you, however, on a few points. In the future, if they need to put a high-speed train on the existing railbed, the howl will be something to witness. I would vote for any new railroad to be placed on higher ground.

You have raised an interesting question about the bridges that I haven't thought about. Legally, why would the loss of a bridge over one of the tributaries not have the same effect as the loss of the Boonville bridge... good point. Would it be possible to retain the bridge pilings and to build a bridge that is, frankly, more maintainable and user-friendly to trail users?

At any rate, thanks for speaking for the other side, I think you raised some very valid points
posted Apr 24 2006 1:36PM - gc, Columbia, Mo

Savage24--I see your points, but there may not be any riding the Katy Trail in years to come, as this will likely open up new lawsuits attempting to invalidate the existence of the trail. It won in the Supreme Court the first time, but it's a different Supreme Court now, and there are a few landowners, a few owning significant amounts of adjoining land, who are still very bitter, and will very likely try again to defeat the trail. Also, I think you will find that if you look at promotional materials for other trails, they always feature their spectacular old railroad bridges--restoring the trail to the original bridge would make that a destination in itself. It looks bad, though, given the decision that came down today.
posted Apr 24 2006 5:58PM - ET, Columbia

An appeal is likely from the news report I read on this. So, we may have to wait and see what
the Court of Appeals does with it.
posted Apr 24 2006 7:24PM - sbikes, Kansas City

Here's the news wire report:

A judge ruled Monday for Gov. Matt Blunt's administration in a dispute with Attorney General Jay Nixon over the fate of an old Katy Railroad bridge.

The attorney general's office sued the Department of Natural Resources last year over its decision to give up the state's interest in using the old bridge as part of the Katy Trail State Park. Union Pacific Railroad Co. wants to dismantle the bridge and use the steel elsewhere.

A 1987 purchase agreement for old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad line allowed DNR to also eventually use the Missouri River bridge as part of the bicycle and pedestrian trail - so long as DNR assumed liability for the bridge on terms acceptable to the railroad.

The state and railroad contend Missouri has no property right to the bridge, and Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder agreed. The attorney general's office argued that the ability to someday use the bridge equaled a property interest.
posted Apr 25 2006 4:57AM - Ray (Webmaster)

There are already large breaks in the Katy Trail north of St Charles which were caused by the 93 and 95 floods. Certainly the railroad bed is not being reconstructed there so that it could carry trains. The bike trail when/if it is completed to Machens will have detours off of the original railroad route.

Also the original railroad right-of-way was destroyed when the Family Arena was built. Were there any landowner lawsuits over that?

posted May 2 2006 4:35PM - Dave, St Louis

I don't think the argument of the entire "Rail Bank" along the Katy needing to be intact holds water. I also don't think the Booneville Bridge has anything to do with keeping the KATY. Any challenge would be overruled in the courts.

A precedent already exists for breaking up the contiguous "Rail Bank". Anyone who rides around the Family Arena in St. Charles realizes that the original rail-bed went right through the center of the Family Arena. So... the original rail-bed has already been compromised and has the KATY went away??? No. Did we have such an outpouring of press and concern? Did KATY enthusiasts pick up the fight to keep the Family Arena from sitting atop the old rail bed? Why not? Because the special interest groups that are making the Boonville bridge an issue weren't there.

If the original rail bed were needed to put a rail line back inplace, they would need to put a tunnel through the Family Arena or tear it down. This doesn't make sense. In reality new land would be acquired (probably through right of Emminent Domain) and the rail line would pass alongside the Arena.

The whole Booneville Bridge issue seems to be important to those who want to preserve it, the lawyers who want to make money litigating about it and landowners alongside the KATY who view this as a possible new opportunity to be compensated for their land.

There are 2 groups of people who will get what they want when this Boonville Bridge issue is over... The Lawyers and the KATY Trail riders who will still get to enjoy Missouri's finest treasure.
posted Dec 28 2006 12:58PM - twhite, Augusta

Dang lawyers.... Just kidding, sbikes (:

Another place where the Katy Trail leaves the original rail bed is in Rhineland where the trail crosses to the south side of hiway 94 for a few hundred yards to avoid running through the parking lots of a couple of businesses.
posted Dec 29 2006 3:50AM - savage24, KC,MO

Yea, yea, yea...blame the lawyers...that's okay, we can take it! LOL
posted Dec 29 2006 11:04PM - sbikes, Kansas City

Down deep lawers are really nice people, an undertaker just told me nine feet is generally deep enough :-) .
posted Dec 30 2006 8:52PM - Wayne, OH

Hey ...hey... we aren't all that bad....but, I guess lawyers are a lot like undertakers...when you
need one, you need one and nothing else will do! : )
posted Dec 30 2006 9:26PM - sbikes, Kansas City

An important distinction between lawyers and undertakers. Lawyers have developed a system creating their "need" and have been handsomely rewarded for it. If underakers did the same, they'd be found guilty of murder. Unless they had a good lawyer ;)
posted Jan 3 2007 12:32PM - Nails

And, isn't it just beautiful...resourceful bunch we are! Sharon
posted Jan 3 2007 9:42PM - sbikes, Kansas City

The Booneville Bridge is in a grave state of disrepair. It is not only a unsightly, useless
structure, but the channel span is dangerously low at high water. It has become a hazard
to navigation on the Missouri River. The potential for a serious environmental accident is
very real and grows more each day that bridge stands taunting disaster. The Missouri
River is a vital transportation artery for St. Louis-Kansas City-Omaha-Sioux City; A
desireable recreation destination for many local residents and most importantly, It is the
root of most, if not all history in this region. As I am not from the area, I have no
emotional attatchment to this bridge, but I recognize the seriousness of a barge full of,
say, Benzene exploding upon striking this structure.

It should also be noted that the Missouri River, although open for barge traffic all year, has
a marked channel only during the summer months. By procrastinating the removal of this
bridge, The people of Booneville, The environment and all those whom enjoy this river are
at risk for a disaster.

-Skip, US Coast Guard
Lower Missouri River
posted Jan 14 2008 8:08PM - Skip, St. Louis

What exactly is the status of this legal dispute at the present time? What is the likely outcome? What will happen to the Katy Trail with no Boonville bridge?
posted Jan 15 2008 4:32AM - howard hughes blues, kc

You might be able to answer a question that I have had for some time. How much commercial barge traffic is there on the Missouri? I grew up in North St. Louis County and am pretty used to seeing lots of barges/tows moving along the Mississippi. However, I can only think of a few times ever seeing barge traffic on the Missouri. I now live in Columbia and am in Boonville a few times a week 52 weeks a year and have never seen a barge (other than sand dredges) on this section of the Missouri.
Any numbers? I am just curious.
posted Jan 15 2008 7:21AM - GC, Columbia, Mo.

The Katy railbed should revert to the landowners, point blank. From our standpoint it has been nothing but trouble, sure it is nice but how about we take some of your property and put it on it? If the Boonville bridge goes so should the trail because the railroad really couldn't be brought back. The MKT borrowed the land, now they cease to exist, why souldn't the landowners get their land back?
posted Jun 6 2008 8:18AM - Jim Hazell, Hartsburg MO

What sort of trouble have you had Jim?
posted Jun 6 2008 11:58AM - savage24, KC, MO

I also would be interested in what trouble you had, and also, other than on pumpkin festival weekend, how much business would Hartsburg get without the trail?
And anyway, at $4 a gallon, rebuilding the railroads sounds like a better idea all the time.
posted Jun 9 2008 1:43PM - gc, Columbia, Mo.

If the government is going to give the land back to the original landowners, this will be a boone for shovel makers because the government is going to have to dig up a lot of dead landowners. The pictures I have seen of the original building of the railroad happened many decades ago.

And as long as there IS a bridge to go across the Missouri at Booneville, what difference does it make?

KATY Trail State Park is a national treasure. Those of us who love it will continue to relish it. Those of you who hate it (for whatever reason), get over it. If someone is doing something illegal, call the cops!
posted Jun 15 2008 5:33PM - Bicycle Guy, St. Clair

Amen, Bike guy
posted Jun 17 2008 6:59AM - gc, Columbia, Mo.

I love the Katy. I am biking on it tomorrow. but reality is reality. It is just not possible to get arund the fact that the landowners have had something taken away from them. Savage 24 is right.

As far as the "original landowners" issue, I believe it may take a perspective change to understand the issue. Most of us live in many different homes in the course of our lives. So we (and by we, I mean urban/suburban/city people) think of it as no big deal that these people are not getting back the land that belonged to their great-grandfathers. What we need to understand is that many of these folks not only have never moved, but no one in their direct line back to the original landowner has ever moved. Generation after generation have lived and worked the same land--of course they feel attached to it. For some, I would imagine having strangers riding through their yards is an invation of privacy--it certainly would to me.

I do hope that eventually the landowners will grow to tolerate or even enjoy the Katy; if not for the thing itself, then for the economic benefit to the towns and the economic potential for themselves.

I hope the Katy never goes away. It is a great park, a wonderful system, a beautiful reality. But the ends do not justify the means. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to realize and admit that when we ride the Katy, we are riding on property that has been forcibly taken away from the rightful owners.
posted Jun 21 2008 12:58AM - mod, Washington, MO

What about the property rights of the indians that the whole nation was stolen from in the first place?
posted Jun 21 2008 9:21AM - Questioningly

"If we are honest with ourselves, we have to realize and admit that when we ride the Katy, we are riding on property that has been forcibly taken away from the rightful owners." Tell you what, I'll admit this, when farmers admit they take government welfare. In fact, that's what ticks me off, if most of these angry landowners are farmers. If THEY want to push the government off "their" land, then I say the government withholds their money. Missouri relies on tourism dollars, I believe it's the 2nd-biggest revenue producer it's got. If the landowners want to reduce Missouri tourism, then it only stands to reason it comes out of THEIR pockets. With their attitudes, how did interstate highways and roads ever get built? How did America survive to this day?
posted Jun 21 2008 12:19PM - Biker, Farmington, MO

If only the people who use the trail could compensate the land owners adjacent to the trail, the issue might be cooled off a bit. If bikers/hikers would donate say 1 penny per mile of use into a fund that would go 1/2 to the land owners and 1/2 to maintenance of the trail, this would be a start. It would be on the honor system (although you could do something with a GPS system to automatically keep track, and auto-bill...OK maybe too Orwellian :) ). The people who use the trail should pay for it, and the people who have lost land (decendants of original owners) should be compensated. The trail should remain intact and be maintained and improved so future generations can enjoy it as much or more than we do today.
posted Jul 4 2008 5:50PM - bhamilton, St. Charles

Great idea bhamilton! If it only worked that way, many of us who live in rural Missouri would not be paying for infastructure and highways in Kansas City and St. Louis. Those who live in St. Louis could pay for their own stadium and I could rest assured my state dollars were spent locally where they need be.
posted Jul 5 2008 9:49AM - Trek

OK, I am diverting way into off-topic land, but before we slam the metro areas too much, lets remember that if you have ever gone to the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, etc., etc., there is no admission -- courtesy of the taxpayers in the City of St. Louis, not Clayton, Ladue, Chesterfield, Arnold, Festus, Florrisant, St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Town & Country, Ballwin or any of the other suburbs.
OK, once again, I am stepping off the soapbox ...
posted Jul 5 2008 4:59PM - gc, Columbia, Mo.

DNR Dir. Childers is after the AG again, ironically using state email and resources for political purposes -- and for what?-- to accuse Nixon of using state email and resources for political purposes. In rereading the Coast Guard guy's response above, about how the Boonville Bridge is so rusty and dangerous and needs to be removed (even though it's eligible for National Historic Registry) -- I wonder why it was good enough that Union Pacific wanted to dismantle it and USE it for the Osage River, if it's such a heap of junk? And if he thinks it's such an environmental threat, he'd better tell it to Childers, because from what I've read, the DNR said Gee, go ahead and remove this bridge, it won't degrade the water quality in any way if it drops into the river....
That Childers 1) Doesn't care about such a revenue-generating, job-creating park system, 2) Is ready to heave-ho a landmark, when he's charged with safekeeping Missouri landmarks, and 3) Was set to give away Missouri's rights to the bridge AND 4) That he was willing to put the Katy Trail in legal jeopardy...It just makes me wonder. Why doesn't he resign his position, when clearly he's in a department with which he's philosophically at war? He seems to have a professional identity crisis as to what the DNR should be about. Nixon was absolutely in the right on this one.
posted Jul 23 2008 12:08PM - Pro-Katy Trail

I have followed this for some time and I have to say that I am continually amazed at people. The descendants of the original landowners from whom the railroad obtained the right of way were compensated in a lawful manner. The land was not "stolen" nor was it forcibly taken from them. The presence of the Katy Trail no more interferes with the adjacent landowners now than it did when the railroad was operational. In fact, I would suspect that any competent real estate appraiser would tell you that the presence of the state park enhances the value of the property. I can sympathize with the landowners, but this issue is well settled. While the majority does have the right to run over other people's rights, the legislature and courts have said that the public good is best served by this legislation. On a final note, not that I am an advocate of this line of thought, I think the descendants of the Osage Indians could make a pretty darn good case that their land was seized from them long before the Katy railroad ever appeared.
posted Jul 24 2008 6:26PM - Arkie

I remember Grandpa tell'n bout when he sold a sheep and the guy loaded up two in the truck and didn't think anyone saw him do it. Grandpa knew though and figured that if he needed that sheep so bad he could just have it. He never confronted the guy about it. That was 43 years ago now and I reckon if we wanted to we could untie the knot in the proverbial family shorts. There's a lot of sheep out there runnin around on little strips of abandoned railroad land. I'm amazed too Arkie, that some are still lookin for their sheep.
posted Jul 25 2008 4:05PM - Anonymous

Udate to my prior post (that began "DNR Childers..."). Mr. Childers explained to me that the bridge would be extremely expensive to maintain or resurrect for Katy Trail purposes, and that the city of Boonville appears to not want it anymore either. He claims the state of Missouri never owned the bridge outright, as Nixon maintained (it was apparently dismissed, or thrown out? by various courts). Childers said the cost of having the DNR maintain the bridge might also sink the department, which already apparently struggles with its workload (hardly surprising, given the obscene underdevelopment and lack of funding provided to tourism in this state). I was glad to hear his side, although I'm still appalled with the political games being played among our state departments, wasting taxpayers' time, money, and energy. INTERESTING NOTE: Mr. Childers claims that ALL landowners were compensated for their land, and property for the Katy Trail was taken from NO ONE. I thought that was rather interesting, considering how many comments I've seen that go something like, "Well, you know, I enjoy riding the Katy Trail, but the trail was stolen from private property owners...." At any rate, thought I'd share the update. I'm sure there are differing views (esp. among "property owners"), and if so, I'd like to hear them.
posted Jul 28 2008 10:29AM - Pro-Katy Trail

I am a third generation Katy railroader, I have been a member of the save the Katy Bridge Coalition since the start. I was the swing shift operator on this bridge in 1965-66. There has been a bridge at this spot since 1873. The present bridge built in 1932 and designed to last 100 years, is still in remarkable condition. Why else would the UP consider reloacateing it? In the early 90's the UP in violation of the federal rail banking act removed the South approach.
While an individual that violates laws is fined jailed or both the UP gets off Scott free. Media has failed to meet its oblegation to the public trust, by not questioning the outragious 3 to 11 million dollar estimates from DNR as to orgin or accuracy. The Save the Katy Bridge Coalation got acutal estimates of 1.1 million and can backup those figures. This Bridge stands at one of the most historic spots in Missouri if not the nation, and should be left as a lasting monument to that history. Come to the 4th Save the Katy Bridge Festival Sept. 28th 11:30AM -6:00PM in Boonville,Mo. and see for yourself. Help Preserve the Legacy. The Old Bridge Tender -mktjb@aol.com
posted Sep 15 2008 4:29PM - J D Bradshaw, Columbia

I have some historical questions about all this. Was land, in fact, taken by eminent domain? The PBS video features a farmer who indicates that the right of way was purchased for $1 (standard contract language for the time.) Was there really ever an agreement that if the railroad quit using the right of way that the land would revert to the farmers? Was there a provision that the right of way could not be sold (or given away)? I'm just wondering what the actual situation was when the right of way was purchased (or not purchased). Has anyone ever seen any of the original contracts? Or original legislation if eminent domain was used?
posted Sep 16 2008 7:48PM - Tripp, St Louis

Osage bridge could be saved for Katy Trail
. . .The Katy bridge has been targeted to be torn down, with its steel reused on a new [UPRR] Osage River bridge. But if the state gets federal money to build the Osage River bridge from scratch, there may no longer be an economic incentive to dismantle the Katy bridge.
posted Aug 17 2009 7:43AM - Paul Toigo, Kansas City

Boonville Bridge is beautiful, has any one seen it at sunset from hwy 5 bridge, I could look at it till the sun goes down. Wish they still had the viaduct in New Franklin that was nice to
posted Mar 9 2014 6:56PM - mw, st louis

This thread was dormant for 5 years and was resurrected by the last post. In that 5 years, the Boonville Katy bridge was saved, and the plans call for the trail to eventually go across it. What a sight that will be!

As for the New Franklin viaduct, that was torn down a few years ago because of course it was no longer needed for MKT trains. It was quite a structure, and I think the city did a nice job of documenting it at the New Fraklin trailhead. Although I was leaning against it being torn down for sentimental reasons, it actually opens the view up to New Franklin on the hill. So I am OK with it.
posted Mar 10 2014 8:41PM - BikerBoy, Edwardsville, IL

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