Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear, First Lady Announce Progress on Dawkins Line Rail Trail

Press Release Date:  Friday, October 09, 2015  
Contact Information:  Terry Sebastian
Jennifer Brislin

Beshears announce community of Royalton, Dawkins Line as 10th certified Kentucky Trail Town

ROYALTON, Ky. – Another section of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail is nearing completion, meaning that 24 miles of the trail will be available for use soon, Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear announced today.

“The Dawkins Line has started to make contributions to the tourism economy in this region,” Gov. Beshear said. “It’s great to see local residents and volunteers work to make this project a success.”

The Dawkins Line is the state’s longest rail trail. An 18-mile portion of the trail opened to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders in 2013 and work is underway on the remaining 18 miles. The trail runs through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties. The Transportation Cabinet, Finance and Administration Cabinet and Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet have worked on the trail, which is managed by the Department of Parks.

The second phase is expected to be completed in November. The work includes the addition of two trailheads, which include restrooms; sidewalks and parking areas. Once complete, there will be 24 miles of the trail open for use.

The third phase, which will add the final 12 miles, will take the trail to Evanston and will go through the 1500 foot Carver Tunnel, the second railroad tunnel on the trail, and the 4th longest tunnel of its kind in the Southeast United States. It is scheduled to be completed in March 2016.

“The Dawkins Line is becoming one of the true gems of adventure tourism in eastern Kentucky,” Mrs. Beshear said. “I’m proud of the support this project has received in Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties and of all the work from the Friends of the Dawkins Line.”

“I appreciate the hard work and persistence given to our communities from Gov. Beshear, our First Lady and the Department of Parks,” said Rep. John Short, of Mallie. “I’m thrilled that with the help from the General Assembly we were able to repurpose the Dawkins Line Rail Trail to serve the people once again. It will continue to have an economic impact and serve as a great recreational trail in our region.”

Royalton Becomes 10th Kentucky Trail Town
The community of Royalton along the Dawkins Line Rail Trail became the 10th certified Kentucky Trail Town, Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear also announced today.

“I’m especially proud of Royalton becoming a Trail Town since it played such an important role in the development of the Dawkins Line,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is a big step for this community and this area as they work to attract tourists.”

The Kentucky Trail Town Program is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and develop them as tourist destinations. It will guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services. The designation will help communities improve their tourism economy, add more jobs and create more tourism opportunities for the entire state.

“The Dawkins Line has been a truly collaborative effort among many state and local partners, and I’m thrilled that the hard work put in to this project is being recognized though this special Trail Town designation,” Mrs. Beshear said. “When complete, the Dawkins Line will stretch for 36 miles and Royalton will be at the center, serving many tourists who will come here for its natural beauty, hospitable people and incredible trails.”

More than 30 communities have started the application process to become a Trail Town and are working with the Office of Adventure Tourism in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

Royalton joins Dawson Springs, Livingston, Morehead, Olive Hill, London, Stearns, Elkhorn City, Jamestown and Manchester as official Kentucky Trail Towns.

Royalton’s other assets include being near the Licking River’s headwaters and a proposed multi-county off-road trail system.

Mrs. Beshear noted that Royalton, in Magoffin County, was already starting to see the benefits of the Dawkins Line with the opening of a bicycle shop and plans for a campground.

Joining the Beshears at the ceremony were Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart; Matt Sawyers, deputy secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Magoffin County Judge Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin; Johnson County Judge Executive R.T. “Tucker” Daniel and Breathitt County Judge Executive John Lester “JL” Smith.

The Office of Adventure Tourism will provide guidance to interested communities on issues such as trail development and signage, information and resources from other state agencies and how other communities have been successful by linking trails and services.

Once a community receives the Trail Town certification, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Department of Travel and Tourism and Office of Adventure Tourism will help promote and market these communities and the services being offered. They will be highlighted on maps, websites, visitors’ guides and other state promotional material.

“We are excited to see Royalton chosen as the latest Kentucky Trail Town,” Sen. Brandon Smith said. “We are optimistic that this unique program will attract new opportunities for our economy, and we are appreciative to all those who helped make this possible.”

Gov. Steve Beshear is highlighting Kentucky’s successful partnerships and the many accomplishments of his administration with a series of in-depth “About Kentucky” videos. In one, he and Mrs. Beshear discuss Kentucky’s booming tourism industry. Click here to view commentary.

Kentucky tourism supports Gov. Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow to build on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health, like reducing the rates of obesity and cardiovascular deaths.