The Holmes County Trail

Holmes County Trail

A couple years back I did a post on the Holmes County Trail, a remarkable conversion of an old rail bed into a recreational trail and safe transport link for Amish traveling through Holmes and nearby counties in Ohio.

The trail has an interesting design, which you can notice in the photo above.  One half, with a rougher surfacing, is meant for buggy/horse traffic, while the other, smoother half is intended for bicycle and foot use.

Amish do use the trail with some frequency, though since it is located on the western side of the settlement, fewer Amish use it than might be the case if it cut through the heart of the community.  I imagine that will change though, as Amish continue to move and settle areas west of Berlin and Millersburg.

It turns out there has been some controversy over the trail, as reported in an article I recently read in the Wooster Daily Record.  Some have argued that the land should have been returned to original owners when the railroad shut down;  there are also a few crime concerns.

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    1. I’ve done some reading on the subject because of an old railroad line in Hopkinsville (KY) that we are trying to make a “rails-to-trails” project. To make a couple of sweeping observations, the people with property adjoining old railroad lines *always* think that they should be given the land. They also *always* think it will increase crime.

      Happy New Year, and congratulations on your book!

    2. Wayne King

      The same s;ituation faced the community in
      Arthur, IL. As it turned out, the RR track bed was returned to the original owners of the adjoining land.

    3. Christina

      Here in western Washington we have a lot of trails that used to be railroad beds. The one nearest my house is called the Centennial Trail. It’s a nice paved 18 mile trail that has several parking areas at different intervals and accommodates foot traffic, bicycles, and horses. It is maintained by the county parks department. All of the parking areas have gates that close automatically just at the end of dusk. I’ve never heard of any crime on our trail. The Holmes Co Trail looks like a good idea and a safe one for buggies.

    4. Great to hear from everyone about some different examples of converted railbeds. Genevieve thanks for the insights on human nature and rails, and also thanks for the wishes on the book!

      Wayne I was wondering in the Arthur situation, were they required to purchase the land? I guess I’m curious how the land was originally acquired as well, simply annexed or was there compensation? I know you may not know offhand, but interesting issue.

      Christina the trail you mention sounds quite nice, do they also have 2 different surfaces?