1892 - present
This 243-foot stone tunnel in Rocheport is the only one of its kind along the Katy Trail. Completed in 1892, the structure is a reminder of the trail’s roots as a corridor for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad. In the late 19th century, the Katy Railroad serviced Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Unlike most railroads, the Katy traveled North to South and was the first railroad to enter Texas from the North. Referred to as the “Gateway to Texas,” the Katy transported passengers to the Southwest and cotton and citrus fruit to the North.
In the late 20th century, growing national concern with conservation and the environment coincided with the closing of several railroads. When the Katy ended operations in the 1980s, Missouri allocated a portion of the railroad’s right-of-way for trail use. In 1983, congress enacted the Rails-to-Trails Act allowing states to hold onto unused railroad corridors while transforming them into long-distance trails in the interim. In 1990, Missouri began converting the rail line and finished improvements by 2011. Today, the Katy Trail is the longest-developed rail-trail in the country. The 240-mile stretch runs between Clinton and Machens and features twenty-six trailheads and four fully restored historic depots. Trail users are transported back to Katy’s past as they wind through scenic areas and small towns that once comprised a bustling railroad corridor.
Date: 1892 - present
Subject: Missouri State Parks
Contributing Institution: Missouri State Parks – Katy Trail State Park
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