Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear and First Lady Participate in Groundbreaking for Dawkins Line Trail
Former Rail Line Will Become 36-Mile Trail for Hiking, Horseback Riding and Cycling
ROYALTON, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear joined local officials and trail enthusiasts today to break ground on the highly-anticipated Dawkins Line Trail project. The trail, which is a former railroad line, will become the latest adventure tourism attraction in Eastern Kentucky for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists.
The Dawkins Line is a 36-mile stretch that runs through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties and will be managed by the Kentucky State Parks. Work is under way for the first phase of the project, which spans 18 miles from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County. Once complete, the Dawkins Line will be the longest rails-to-trails project in the state.
“Developing Kentucky Trails such as the Dawkins Line not only boosts tourism dollars, but those trails spur other new business and economic development in nearby communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “This project is the result of months of planning and serves as a prime example of state and local agencies working together to develop an outstanding tourism destination in Kentucky.”
First Lady Jane Beshear said the new trail will help showcase the beauty of Eastern Kentucky.
“Our Appalachian region offers exquisite landscapes perfectly suited for hiking, cycling and horseback riding,” said Mrs. Beshear. “I am certain that this trail will have great appeal to both Kentuckians and visitors to our state. I look forward to returning next year to help open the trail and experience all that it has to offer firsthand.”
The Dawkins Line is similar to another successful rails-to-trails project in southwest Virginia -- the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail. The trail in Virginia attracts over 200,000 visitors a year and has led to new businesses with a positive economic impact.
The project has support from several trail organizations and is expected to help expand the local tourism economy. The trail name comes from the Dawkins Lumber Company, which developed the rail line in the early 1900s for timber harvesting and transportation.
Joining the Governor and Mrs. Beshear for the ceremony were Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow, Finance and Administration Secretary Lori Flanery, Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, Kentucky State Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker, Adventure Tourism Director Elaine Wilson, Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin and chairman of the Kentucky Rails to Trails Council, Keith Lovan.
The Kentucky State Parks received a multi-county coal severance grant of $500,000 to help support the trail development. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is providing the Department of Parks with $2 million in transportation program funding for the first phase, as well as approximately $285,000 in Transportation Enhancement dollars for trailheads.
State funding for the property was initially provided by the 2006 General Assembly. The purchase of the property from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group was finalized in the spring of 2011.
The Finance and Administration Cabinet is in the process of finalizing construction contract details with BOCA Enterprises of Hagerhill. The first phase of work is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.
For more information about trails in Kentucky and other adventure tourism opportunities, visit www.getoutKY.com