What We Do

The purpose of the Abandoned Railroad Corridor Inventory Project was to map and inventory Kentucky's abandoned railroad network and analyze the suitability of each corridor in regard to future trail reuse. This analysis was to ascertain the land ownership status and the dates of abandonment of the abandoned segments. The physical integrity of corridors was to be noted as well. This relates to the presence or absence of railroad structures such as bridges, tunnels, and culverts that may be useful in future trail development.

These objectives were to be accomplished through gathering information to create a thorough GIS database of alignments of all abandoned railroad of all types including common carriers and private lines. The future trail potential of abandoned railroad rights of way was to be assessed with information on ownership, connectivity to other railbeds, nearness to population centers, proximity to parks and forests, and access to natural and historic features, as well as connection to civic and cultural amenities and commercial services.

The results of this study will help existing rails to trails organizations, such as Kentucky Rails to Trails Council, expand their effort into new areas, identify new lines with trail potential, and assist local community trail initiatives with projects. Local groups, elected officials or interested individuals will also find the report useful in identifying abandoned rail resources in their area. The GIS database created through this study is intended to be compatible with the State Rail Plan that focuses on active rail lines. Theses two studies can be used together to show a complete picture of Kentucky's rail network, past and present. The database is designed to be added to and maintained as future abandonment occurs and as more knowledge about individual lines is gained. It serves as a central, updateable archive for Kentucky's historic railroad information.