Rails-to-Trails

6:00 a.m. on April 7, 2016 (EDT)
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207 forum posts

Last Sunday, I visited this 31 mile Rails-to-Trails project in central Virginia --- High Bridge Trail.  Started early (see shadow) so I could have the place to myself.   I hiked (more like moseyed) the 8 mile round trip from Rice, VA to Farmville VA and back.

The aerial photo is from Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation. The rest are from Sunday morning.  The bridge itself is 2440 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River.

Aerial%2520High%2520Bridge.jpg
High%2520Bridge.JPG
Morning%2520Shadow%2520High%2520Bridge.J
Appomatox%2520River%2520from%2520High%25
Highbridge%2520Substructure.JPG

Norfolk Southern was the last to own it. The original brick piers (see last photo above) were built by the South Side Rail Road in 1853-1854.  The steel tower bridge was completed in 1914.

The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark.  It's also one of the ten longest recreational bridges in the USA.  The 31 mile trail itself is a National Recreation Trail.  

Here's an 1865 picture of the original bridge:High_Bridge_Farmville_Virginia%25201865.

Here's a photo from 1914 of the "old" brick pier bridge (left) and "new" steel tower bridge (right) upon completion of the "new" bridge:
High-Bridge-Old%2520and%2520New%2520-%25

 

10:35 a.m. on April 7, 2016 (EDT)
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5,384 forum posts

I rode a 32 mile bike trail of the Rails to Trails system in 1983 on a ride from Jackson WY to Upstate NY. It was/is called the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail and is the first of the Rail-Trails kind of bike path built in 1965. http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/ 

So you hiked it? Sure is a long old bridge, why is it so long, is the land beneath it in a flood zone or is the land marshy or too wet to have built the railroad on the ground? The river it crosses is very narrow, so am curious if you may know why the bridge is so long?

I have been bicycle touring since 1982 and have ridden about 150,000 miles since then around the USA and Alaska. There are over 1000 Rails-Trails route now in the USA. I follow them as often as I come to them.

Near Riverton WY there is a section of the old railroad that goes over a steel suspension bridge built in about 1880 and a newer section of extension bridge built in 1925. The bridges go over the Wind River. The 1925 section had to be built as the river flooded a year before and washed out the land where the 1880 bridge once connected to the edge of the Wind River.

I am about to leave on my 0th bike tour from Jackson WY to Zion Nat Park UT in a week.

11:00 a.m. on April 7, 2016 (EDT)
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3,976 forum posts

Good idea.

Railroad grades are always moderate, usually less than about 4 %.  Many are in out of the way places.  I enjoyed hiking the Cheasapeak and Ohio Canal tow path as a kid.  Now they haul some barges on it again pulled by mules.

We used to be able to really motor on the path because it was flat.  We did a lot of mileage even carrying our old heavy weight backpacking equipment that did not even have hip belts.

1:05 a.m. on April 10, 2016 (EDT)
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391 forum posts

I love the old canals the fishing is usually great in them and it's always an easy stroll. The C&O near Frederick Maryland had some of the best crappie and small mouth fishing I'd ever done it was well worth the trips.

Norfolk Southern runs right outside my building and days when I have a migraine I hate them oh so much...lol.

Id never heard of Rails To Trails before definitely gonna have to check it out. VA has some very cool historical places. Williamsburg used to be great now it's a wreck nothing like I remember it as its sad.

9:29 a.m. on April 10, 2016 (EDT)
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Here are a few of the Rails to Trails websites

http://www.traillink.com/ 

http://www.railstotrails.org/

http://www.rttwst.org/

Every state it seems now has a old railroad bed turned into a public trail, they have been around for 50+ years. The Elroy-Sparta trail was the first in 1965

http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/ 

November 20, 2019
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