Iowa River Rail Trail
News & Project Updates

UNION, LISCOMB, IOWA - (July 23, 2014) - "Progress being made on Iowa River Recreational Trail", By Rob Maharry, News Editor, the Conrad Record: The recreational trail project along the former Iowa River Railroad, which runs for 34 miles from Steamboat rock in the north to Marshalltown in the south and passes through Union and Liscomb, is coming closer to fruition as the end of the summer nears, but local and state officials say it is still too early to accurately predict when the trail will be opened to the public.

Salvaging of the railroad tracks, which have been out of commercial use for the last three years, has been completed for the portions of the trail that run through the BCLUW school district, but the crew may need an extension past its current early August deadline to complete the job.  Once the salvation is complete, the Hardin County Trails Commission, which will own the trail from Steamboat Rock to the county line between Union and Liscomb, and TRAILS, Inc of Marshalltown, which will own and maintain the Marshall County portion, can begin to lay the groundwork and develop the new trail.

"We'd like to get it in a rough state by late fall so people can start walking on it,"" HCTC Board Member and Union City Councilwoman Judy Clark said.  "We want to start with crushed rock, and the goal is to eventually have the whole trail paved."  Liscomb Mayor and TRAILS, Inc. board member Hank Penner added that Synder and Associates, an engineering and planning firm with offices in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, is still conducting its assessment and that the several bridges along the trail could delay its opening.  "It really adds character to the trail, but the downside is that (the bridges) add expense to the trail as well, even before the paving."  he said.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a $775,000 grant last October to cover the cost of the land acquisition and some additional preparation work such as clearing and preliminary engineering, and the cities of Union and Liscomb have each appplied for $50,000 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grants through the state of Iowa to assist in offsetting the cost of surfacing the trail within those communities.  According to Clark and Penner, cities will not have to budget for the development or upkeep of the trail as the grant money is expected to cover the costs, and those involved with the project are hopeful that it will result in an economic boon for Steamboat Rock, Eldora, Gifford, Union, Liscomb, Albion and Marshalltown.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) Trails Coordinator Andrea Chase touted the popularity of Pine Lake State Park, the potential to connect riders to the Central Iowa Trails Network (which includes popular trails like the Heart of Iowa Trail, the Raccoon River Trail and the High Trestle Trail and would potentially allow riders to bike all the way from Steamboat Rock to the Des Moines area) and the natural beauty of the Iowa River Greenbelt as major selling points for the new trail.  She added that the smaller communities such as Steamboat Rock (pop 310), Union (pop 397), Liscomb (pop 301) an Albion (pop 505) stood to gain a lot from the increased foot traffic.  "It has been my experience that the smaller communities are truly the ones that really benefit from the trail development, but how much they benefit depends on them and the extent to which they embrace the trail,"  she said.  "As hundreds of thousands travel across Iowa right now on RAGBRAI, consider where they are stopping.  It's the small town bars and diners.  Those establishments are the ones that truly reflect Iowa and give users a unique experience."

Although board members and the state officials hope to open the trail sometime within the next year, they stressed that the IRRT will be an ongoing project that will never truly be "finished:".  Chase estimated that the total cost could be between $8.5 and 11 million, and the involved parties continue to seek out grants and private donations for future improvements.  It remains to be seen how much of it will be paved and which activities will be allowed, as there has been some discussion between the Hardin and Marshall  County groups on permitting horse riding and motorized vehicles, which are not currently allowed on most Iowa trails, in addition to bicycles and walkers/runners.

"There will be a constant differing of opinion, but I think that we can find some middle ground,"  Penner said.  Leaders are optimistic that the trail will have a positive impact on the communities through which it passes, and Clark is excited to use the trail and expose the Greenbelt to cyclists from other areas who may not be as familiar with its landscape.  "The Greenbelt area is a beautiful location, and I think that it would be a wonderful opportunity for people to come in, see what Iowa has to offer and see the beauty of nature for themselves.  With the bike trail being closely parallel to the river, there are several opportunities to go off the bike trail, look at the river or even go kayaking"  she said.

Penner did cite some concerns that he has heard from residents who own property near the trail, but he still believes that it will be beneficial to Liscomb in the long run.  "I think the addition of this trail is going to be a positive to get people out in these smaller communities," he said.  "I don't think we'll grow by leaps and bounds, but getting people out and about is a good thing."

ELDORA, IOWA - (May 20, 2014) - Reprinted with Permission from the Hardin County Index: "With summer comes first steps in trail development", By Rick Patrie, News Editor:
HARDIN COUNTY - Scott Kosanke says that realistically, wholesale use of the Iowa River Recreational Trail probably awaits next summer.

The multi-purpose walking, biking, snowmobiling and what not-trail is being created along the route of the one time Iowa River Railroad.  The rail service closed down a couple of years ago (for all points south of Steamboat Rock) and the roughly 100 foot wide right of way was quickly rail banked and purchased under the auspices of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation - a conservation group which has taken the lead in the establishment of many recreational trails over the last three decades.

It is commonly thought that they are all second lives for abandoned rail lines, but that is not the case.  Some of the trails have been assembled piece-meal with the all together voluntary cooperation of farmers and other landowners along their routes.  The trail here does follow the railway, however, and runs from just north of Steamboat Rock to Marshalltown.  In the end, it will be a project of the city of Marshalltown and Hardin County.

Hardin County has already established a quasi-independent board, much like its Hardin County Conservation Commission, to oversee trail development.  And one stipulation that trail proponents have long maintained is that development of the trail will track the availability of grant and donation funds.  Right now, Kosanke says the trails committee is working with some money left over from a three quarter of a million dollar grant used to purchase the old abandoned rail bed from the one time railway company.  Leftover funds will be used to commission and engineering study of the property, particularly the many bridges up and down the line.

They in some cases have to be shored up, and then gradually it is hoped to first establish a crushed rock base that will accommodate trail users.  Kosanke says, don't expect it to be particularly good for light bikes, but it should be comfortable for mountain bikes, joggers and snowmobilers this coming winter.  "No taxes, just grants and fund raising."  One of the last traces of the old railroad remains in Eldora.  Large stocks of ties due for recycling.  The ones in good condition - and there are many since they were only installed only five years ago -- they will go back into service, while the others will be ground up for other uses.

But for the coming summer, Kosanke says the trail project will be concentrating on assessing needs, fund raising, and perhaps some limited traffic along some areas of the project.  Right now the public is being asked to remain off the trail bed and trail route for safety considerations.

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (April 19, 2014) -
"Iowa River Rail Trail Continues to Develop" by Stephanie Ivankovich, Staff Writer, Marshalltown Times-Republican

A fresh blanket of snow covers the future Iowa River Trail, along with thousands of salvaged railroad ties, in Union on March 1st.  The winter of 2013-2014 continues its relentless grip on Hardin and Marshall Counties!

DES MOINES, IOWA (March 4, 2014) - Reprinted with Permission from the Eldora Herald-Ledger
- "Iowa River Railroad Honored for Land Donation" by Rick Patrie:  More than 2,800 acres of Iowa land with an estimated value of more than $6 million was permanently protected through many donations for conservation.  The donors associated with the 20 donations of land or land value will be recognized during a ceremony at the state capitol.

The Iowa River Railroad donated 34 miles of former rail corridor through a bargain sale to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation that will further the proposed Iowa River Scenic Trail in Hardin and Marshall Counties.

The former rail corridor will create a loop trail between Steamboat Rock, Pine Lake State Park and Eldora and connect to Union, Liscomb, Albion and Marshalltown.  It will also connect to the nearly 700-mile Central Iowa Trail system.  Ownership has been transferred to Hardin County and to the City of Marshalltown.

The ceremony is scheduled on March 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Legislative Dining Room 15, at the State Capitol, in Des Moines.  Iowa Governor Terry Branstand is scheduled to attend.

Landowners who are in attendance will be honored individually for their donation.  The Gift to Iowa's Future recognition celebrates and honors individuals and corporations who have donated land or a conservation easement to benefit Iowa's parks, trails, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas, open spaces and public recreation areas for other public uses and benefits.

UNION, IOWA - (February 7, 2014) -
One of the unique features of the future Iowa River Trail is the fact that it crosses branches of the Iowa River in several locations, including at Steamboat Rock; north of Gifford; south of Union; and south of Albion.  A number of these crossings feature historically significant railroad bridges with unique architecture.  These bridges are one of the many reasons why this trail will be considered one of the most scenic recreational trails in Iowa once the project is completed. 

Kent Kelsey of Iowa Falls shares a couple of photos of these bridges taken while snowmobiling recently on the Iowa River as Hardin and Marshall Counties remain in the grip of one of the coldest winters in recent memory.  Note that snowmobiling, as well as all other recreational activities, are prohibited on the trail corridor itself as railroad decommissioning work continues into the summer of 2014 and until bridges and other structures can be secured to protect the safety of the public.

A view of the bridge south of Union from the Iowa River.

Bridge over the Iowa River south of Albion.  The public is reminded to avoid accessing the trail corridor, including bridges, until railroad salvage operations are complete and bridge stabilization can occur.

ELDORA, IOWA - (February 5, 2014) -
The Hardin County Board of Supervisors officially established a Trails Commission at their regular business meeting on February 5th.  The Hardin County Trails Commission will be responsible for oversight of the 22 mile section of the future Iowa River Trail segment in Hardin County and will be tasked with a number of activities, including fundraising; project planning; development of rules and regulations governing use of the trail; and eventual day to day oversight of the trail once developed.

The commission is made up of representatives from several communities in Hardin County, including the four cities that the eventual trail will connect within the county.  Appointed to the commission were:

  • Judy Clark, Union
  • Deb Crosser, Eldora
  • Chip Daleske, Eldora
  • Kent Kelsey, Iowa Falls
  • Scott Kosanke, Eldora
  • Lynette Miller, Gifford
  • Heidi Mitchell, Eldora
  • Eric Nielson, Steamboat Rock
  • Chris Wieting, Iowa Falls
Congratulations, and thank you to these residents who have stepped up to help guide development of the Iowa River Trail segment in Hardin County!

IOWA FALLS, IOWA - (January 27, 2014) - It's a new year, and much exciting work continues right into the new year as trails groups from both Marshall and Hardin Counties continue to work together to advance the Iowa River Trail project forward.  Here's a few key updates:
  • The "Iowa River Trail" has emerged as the most likely official name for the future trail!
  • A resolution between Hardin County, Marshalltown and the IRT Board regarding "order of operations" is being developed to help facilitate grant funding activities, project management, and other trail development activities.
  • Work is underway to develop a logo and additional marketing materials, including a potential web site devoted explicitly to the trail.
  • RFP's are being prepared to send to several engineering firms to complete an initial inventory of the project including a full survey of the bridges, culverts and other key structures along the corridor.
  • In Hardin County, a baton passing occurred as Cindy Goodner stepped down as chair of Hardin County Recreational Trails due to an upcoming move to northeast Iowa.  Cindy has been an integral member of the committee and has been instrumental in helping to get the IRT project "off the ground" in addition to being actively involved in trail development efforts within Iowa Falls for many years.  Thank you, Cindy, for your leadership and dedication to promoting recreational trails in Hardin County!  We are excited to announce that Jim Gillepsie has stepped into the chair role of Hardin County Recreational Trails!
STEAMBOAT ROCK, IOWA - (December 28, 2013) - It's been noted that one of the benefits of the proposed Iowa River Rail Trail is the fact that Hardin County (as well as more of Marshall County) will be connected to the regional network of recreational trails being developed in Central Iowa.  However, it's much easier to visualize this when looking at a map of the existing network of Central Iowa trails with the proposed IRRT added to this map: 

Green lines represent existing trails; blue lines roads with bicycle lanes; red line the future IRRT.

As you can see from the attached graphic (courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation and Google Maps) you can visualize how there will be nearly a contiguous system of trails from Steamboat Rock all the way to the Des Moines metro area and beyond, minus a couple of short gaps in the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail between Melbourne and Collins - both of which have very safe and short detours on lightly traveled roads.  Active efforts are also underway to close other gaps in the regional trail network, including between Perry (Raccoon River Valley Trail) and Woodward (High Trestle Trail); along with some initial visioning of connecting the Chichaqua Valley Trail from Baxter to Melbourne.

Studying this map, one can really begin to appreciate how the former network of railroads once connected communities small and large across Iowa in the early parts of the last century.  The renaissance of connecting many of these communities again along these same corridors - this time with mult-use recreational trails - is an exciting phenomenon reinvigorating many of the communities along these paths with visitors once again.

The addition of the Iowa River Rail trail will become a key extension of the backbone of this trail network north from Marshalltown into Hardin County, and provides a mechanism to eventually connect Alden, Iowa Falls and Ackley to the network.  Beyond that, it even becomes possible to fathom an eventual connection to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area as the trail network comes within striking distance of those cities!

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (December 28, 2013) -  TRAILS, Inc. (Trail Resources and Iowa Land Stewards, Inc.), a non-profit organization formed to assist with development, operation and maintenance of the future IRRT segment in Marshall County, has created a facebook page as well as a twitter account to keep the public informed of efforts to develop the IRRT!  Be sure to "like" them on facebook, as well as subscribe to their twitter feed, for regular updates.

ELDORA, IOWA - (November 18, 2013) - Excitement is growing over the project to convert the former Iowa River Railroad right-of-way to a multi-use recreational trail that will eventually stretch from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock.  Over the past several weeks, a number of key hurdles have been crossed including securing state grant funding to purchase the right-of-way for eventual trail development; the formation of a trails commission in Hardin County and a certified nonprofit in Marshall County to oversee development, operation and eventual maintenance of the trail; and the support of local government entities in both counties for the project to move ahead.

Railroad salvage operations began this past summer, and in many spots the rails and ties have already been removed.  Consequently, there has been a number of reports of individuals already trying to use the future trail ranging from walkers and joggers to reports of ATV's utilizing the corridor.

While it's great to see the public eager for this project to move ahead and start using the future trail corridor for recreational activities, it is important to stress that the right-of-way is currently CLOSED to the public and that individuals must refrain from accessing the corridor until further notice.

Of primary concern is public safety.  Railroad salvage operations will not be complete until the summer of 2014, and as a result there will continue to be heavy construction equipment operating along the right-of-way until those activities are finished.  In addition, there is much work to be done to stabilize and properly secure bridges and other structures to make them safe for eventual public use; grading and surface stabilization of the former rail bed that will be required; signage that must be installed and a host of other activities that must be completed before the trail can be safely opened to public use.

Individuals who fail to heed warnings to avoid accessing the right-of-way are at risk of jeopardizing their own personal safety as well as the safety of others.

In the near future, representatives from both Hardin and Marshall Counties will work together to craft a plan for development, operation and maintenance of the eventual trail.  Part of this work will include developing rules and regulations that will eventually dictate the types of recreational activities permitted on the trail to ensure the public can best benefit from the future trail corridor while ensuring the concerns of adjacent private property owners are properly addressed.  Until that time, the public should refrain from use of the corridor to avoid creating conflicts which could hinder trail development efforts and general support of the project.

Updates on the Iowa River Rail Trail project, including information on how the public can best assist with efforts to develop this future new recreational asset in Hardin and Marshall Counties, can be found right here on this web site!

ELDORA, IOWA - (October 18, 2013) -  Reprinted with Permission from the Hardin County Index: "Rail Trail gets $750,000", By Rick Patrie, News Editor: 
HARDIN COUNTY - The Iowa Department of Transportation, this past week, informed the Hardin County board of supervisors that there's about three quarters of a million dollars in grant money there for the taking, if the county board ops to take a stake in the Iowa River Scenic Trail project.

It is a $775,000 recreational trails grant overseen by the state highway department.

The 'scenic trail' is that much discussed-nearly-33-mile-long recreational trail that, if finally approved and undertaken, would follow the defunct route of the Iowa River Railroad.

The grant is contingent on some public or non-profit entity here in Hardin (and another in Marshall County) agreeing to assume ownership of the trail route.  The grant, by most estimates, would be far more than enough to cover their cost of acquisition and would also accommodate a first round of basic improvements.  The owner would be committed to the longer term upkeep of the trail.  Right now, most eyes are on Hardin County as a purchaser, going in partnership with the city of Marshalltown which had reportedly approved the idea.  The trail would run from north of Steamboat Rock to Marshalltown and supporters of the idea are proposing to accommodate multiple recreational uses, from snowmobiles to bicycles and everything in between.

It was only a couple of weeks ago the Hardin County Board of Supervisors seemed faced with a snap decision on whether to take a big stake in the proposed trail.

Now, it looks as if the board still has until November to decide.

The board hints at support for the project, but says a lot of questions need to be answered about the county's long term maintenance costs and liability issues.

A couple of weeks ago, board of supervisors member Ron Rickles said the county is favorably inclined toward the project, but he said he would like to see "a little more skin in the game," meaning ownership stakes by the communities in the county along the trail route, something more than just partners in planning.

But indications are now that the county may end up being the local stakeholder of record, along with the city of Marshalltown.

This week supervisor Brian Lauderbach said that should the board sign on to the project, they would be looking toward putting the trail under the management of a new semi-autonomous county commission.

Those annual maintenance costs could run about $5,000 or less a year, he says.

Lauderbach says the trail issue first came up well over a year ago when it was clear that the railroad was finished.  He said, that in mind, he went out and did some trail riding himself on other similar projects here in Iowa and in southern Minnesota.

Right now the rail bed here in Hardin and Marshall counties is effectively in the possession of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation based in Des Moines.  It acquired it from the defunct railroad.  The rail bed is now being cleared of rails and ties and other hardware.

The railroad has reportedly agreed to leave behind a stock of the ties, which could be used to form and fit up the trail base where it passes over bridges along the route.

Yard by yard, the rails and the ties have been pulled, stockpiled and readied for reclamation of one kind or another.  Work has been underway since earlier this summer.

The salvage company at work now has worked as far north as Eldora.  Much of the track and ties have already been removed within the city limits leaving behind some idea of the scale of the proposed trail, should it come to pass.

The salvage firm has been working from Marshalltown moving north since June, and right now it counts 17 plus miles torn up and largely moved off site, and about seven or so to go to the spot north of Steamboat Rock.

The rail line north of that point will remain operational, serving the ethanol plant north of Steamboat Rock, with other rail connections in Ackley.

The rail stock being removed, which is not excessively worn, is actually shipped right back into the use circuit, going into service with other rail lines with which the company is associated.

Those rails that are worn, will be melted down for scrap.  Same goes for the other accessories of steel pulled up.

The ties come in two varieties, the company says.  On this job they are really in good shape, or they are a total loss.  That's likely because of the extensive tie replacement that was done about five years ago when the then Iowa River Railroad was founded by three local shippers hoping to make a run of it moving corn to the ethanol plant at Steamboat Rock.

That renovation meant a lot of good ties, and more as you moved further north on the line.

South of Union, the rail line was in far less favorable condition.

The ties that aren't useable once again are not a loss however.  They are shipped to a receiver in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and eventually they are ground up and combined with other combustable materials to be used to power utility generators in the Wisconsin area.

The company operator indicated that a lot of the projects on which the reclamations are done, end up being directed to rails to trails programs such as the one under consideration here.

The city of Marshalltown has been a strong supporter of the project, although Marshall County has balked at involvement.

Supporters of the project say they are proposing an ownership stake that insures the local owners will be fully able to decide up or down on any questions involving substantial expenditures for future maintenance.

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (October 16, 2013) -
"Bike Trail Receives $770,000 Grant"
by Stephanie Ivankovich, Staff Writer, Marshalltown Times-Republican

AMES, IOWA - (October 8, 2013) -
GREAT NEWS!  A press release from the Iowa Department of Transportation today announces some exciting news for the IRRT project: 

"The Iowa Transportation Commission today approved nearly $3.5 million for eight State Recreational Trails Program projects.  The State Recreational Trails Program was created in 1988 with the purpose of developing and maintaining recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and nonmotorized trail users.  This funding is available to cities, counties, state agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations through an annual application based program.  Projects and approved funding amounts:
  • Ankeny Connector to High Trestle Trail (Polk County Conservation Board and Ankeny): $782,500
  • Bellevue Rivervue Trail - Phase II (Bellevue and Jackson County Conservation Board):  $260,774
  • Bridging the Gap:  Phase I Dry Run Trail - Connecting Decorah's Trout Run Trail to the Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail (Winnishiek County Conservation Board and Decorah):  $380,265
  • Farragut to Shenandoah Trail Connection (Farragut):  $487,500
  • Iowa River Scenic Trail (Hardin County Board of Supervisors and Marshalltown):  $775,000
  • Multiuse Mississippi River Trail, Riverdale Section, Phase 2 (Riverdale):  $318,644
  • Pioneer Beach Road Trail (Orleans and Dickinson County Trails Board):  $371,479
  • Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail Connector (Dallas County Conservation Board):  $92,897"
ELDORA, IOWA - (October 2, 2013) -  Reprinted with Permission from the Eldora Herald-Ledger: "Proponents Pose Recreation Trail to Board of Supervisors", By Rick Patrie, News Editor:  HARDIN COUNTY - There has always been a certain urgency to the planning going on for a pedestrian, bike and otherwise recreational trailway between Steamboat Rock and Marshalltown.

The idea burst into full bloom a few months ago, with deadlines already looming from the beginning.

But, in truth, the project took on a renewed energy after several years of contemplation - when the owners of the Iowa River Railroad finally pulled the plug on their operation.

The rail line closed, and even now the ties and the rails are being removed, but for categorization purposes, the Iowa Department of Transportation calls the route a transportation corridor.

And with that designation, folks, particularly in and around Iowa Falls, saw the chance for a bike and recreational trail.  They got into gear and launched the idea of converting the railroad bed to recreation.

They came to the Hardin County Board of Supervisors this week, and once again, there was a deadline looming and a sense of urgency.  The board said it needed time, however.

Trails advocate Cindy Goodner met with Hardin County Supervisors Wednesday with a resolution asking the County to be a "planning partner" as the project moves forward, but the big ticket proposal was that the county sign on to be an owner of the portion of the trail which runs through Hardin County.  Owner and in one way or another take on responsibility for upkeep in the long haul.

Though the board didn't balk at the idea, but it did say it needed time, and answers to a lot of questions before signing on to any proposal of that nature.

Goodner told members that there is something of a soft deadline on the matter, as the state trails association has all but officially told enthusiasts here that it would be at the top of the agency's list for funds receipt, and that could very well mean that Iowa River Recreational Trail might receive nearly three quarters of a million dollars for purchase of the rail bed.  She said that the Iowa River Recreational Trail idea was recommended by the State Rec Trails Program to receive $780,000 for land acquisition and bridge stabilization last week, the final approval, although not guaranteed, looked highly positive, and could be finalized by later next month.  This means the county could have ownership of the trail 100 percent funded by grants.

The trail has already been purchased from the defunct railroad by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and is essentially being held in trust, while recreation interests work out a new set of owners from among public and even private entities running the route through Hardin and into the middle of Marshall County.

Goodner said there is more federal money potentially available to help with repairs and bringing it into full use status.  And more yet for some upkeep going forward.

But in the case of the state grant program, the project organizers have to submit for the big grant by the first days of October, and to do so they need some kind of commitments abut ownership partners.

The Board promised to try and investigate the matter expeditiously and move as quickly as possible, but all the members said they couldn't act until a lot of questions were answered, particularly about long term legal liabilities and costs of the maintenance and improvements of the thirty plus miles of property.

The City of Marshalltown had passed a resolution stating its intent to own and maintain the rail trail portion of the project from the City of Marshalltown all the way to the Marshall/Hardin County line to the north.  Marshalltown agreed to do this under the auspices of a new non profit, Trails, Incl, a group whose creation was in face actually facilitated by the Marshalltown city council.  Trails, Inc. has since raised nearly $20,000 to help with maintenance costs.

Goodner said the cities of Eldora and Steamboat Rock have both signed resolutions in support of the project, and have agreed to be "planning partners" as the project moves forward - but it should be stressed that planning partners status does not imply joining the ownership circle.

Goodner said the Central Iowa Snowmobilers of Marshalltown have agreed to donate materials and labor to make the bridges usable for a rough trail (hikers, mountain bikers, snowmobiles).

She said the Iowa State Snowmobile Association and Iowa DNR have $20,000 set aside from the state snowmobile pass fund for this project if it moves forward.

Goodner told the Hardin County board that rail and ties are even now being removed and what will be left will look like a rough gravel road.  She said Wednesday that the salvagers have agreed to leave behind a portion of the wood tie stock to help new owners fill in the gaps on bridges.  Everyone agreed they would try to meet again within a couple of weeks for a followup on lots of unanswered questions.

GIFFORD, IOWA - (September 29, 2013) -
Crews salvaging rails and ties from the IARR corridor have made it as far north as Gifford.  While visiting the future trail corridor this weekend, large stacks of railroad ties were observed being loaded on trucks in both Union and Albion destined for new uses elsewhere.  As can be seen from these photos, once the rails and ties are removed only the ballast remains leaving a nice, stable base that will eventually serve as the foundation for a future trail surface.

Railroad salvage equipment between Gifford and Eldora.

Once the rails and ties are removed as shown in this picture taken in Gifford, a nice base is left that will serve as the eventual foundation for a future trail surface.

A photo of the corridor with rails and ties removed north of Union.  Imagine in the future enjoying the fall colors on a crisp autumn afternoon while cycling, jogging or walking on this stretch of future trail adjacent to the Iowa River!

ELDORA, IOWA - (September 25, 2013) -
Much work has been accomplished over the past few weeks as the Iowa River Rail Trail project continues to move forward!  Here are the latest updates, courtesy of Cindy Goodner:
  • Steve Throssel and Cindy Goodner attended the Hardin County Supervisors Meeting today (September 25th) with a resolution asking the county to be a planning partner as the project moves forward, and to ultimately own and maintain the section of trail within Hardin County.  Look forward to updates on the outcome of these discussions soon.
  • The City of Marshalltown passed a resolution (as noted in the news item below) accepting ownership and maintenance of the trail from Marshalltown north to the Marshall/Hardin County line.  They agreed to do this with the help of a new non profit, Trails, Inc.  Trails, Inc. has since raised nearly $20,000 to help with maintenance costs!
  • The Cities of Eldora and Steamboat Rock have both signed resolutions in support of the project, and have agreed to be planning partners as the project moves forward.
  • The Central Iowa Snowmobile Association and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have $20,000 set aside from the state snowmobile pass fund for this project if it moves forward.
  • The Central Iowa Snowmobilers of Marshalltown have agreed to donate materials and labor to make the bridges usable for a rough trail (hikers, mountain bikers, snowmobiles) which means the trail could be used in its current form relatively quickly once initial development work is completed.
  • The rail and ties are being removed now, what will be left will look like a rough gravel road until further efforts to develop a more permanent trail surface begin.
  • The Iowa River Rail Trail was recommended by the State Rec Trails Program to receive $780,000 for land acquisition and bridge stabilization last week, with final approval expected sometime in October.  This is GREAT NEWS and means Hardin County could have ownership of the trail funded entirely by grant monies!
Hardin County Supervisors report that they have not had much public input on the project up to this point, so trail advocates and supporters are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Supervisors and encourage them to support the trail!

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (September 10, 2013) -
"Bike Trail Agreement Discussed at City Council" by Stephanie Ivankovich, Staff Writer, Marshalltown Times-Republican

ELDORA, IOWA - (September 3, 2013) -  Reprinted with Permission from the Eldora Herald-Ledger: "Salvage begins on RR", By Rick Patrie, News Editor: 
"HARDIN COUNTY - Salvage crews were seen at work in Eldora, removing spikes and disconnecting ties as the close-down on the Iowa River Railway is taking shape.

The earthern rail bed is now property of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, which is essentially taking title to help facilitate the eventual transfer of the property to public interests along the rail route between north of Steamboat Rock to Marshalltown.  The track stock is the salvage property of the closed railroad line.

The foundation said this week that it didn't know exactly how long the reclaiming of the rail stock would take, but they anticipated it would be a matter of a few months.

The Iowa River Railroad, which runs through Hardin County is looking to salvage its steel inventory and shed its vacated rail bed.  Scenery is the marketable commodity now.

The rail line has, in the last two years, divested itself of that long run of rail bed last put to use hauling grain, for the most part within Hardin County, and the Steamboat Rock ethanol plant.

Today, some outdoor enthusiasts think the rail bed could live again as an artery for moving tourism.

The dream is to convert the long embankment to a variety of traffic modes, potentially everything from bicycles, to walking, to ATV's, even to folks on horseback.  Right now the rail bed is secure and stable, and word was that the numerous bridges along the way have been judged safe for light traffic of this kind."

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (September 2, 2013) -  "Supports Iowa River Railroad Trail Concept," editorial in Marshalltown Times-Republican.

- (August 29, 2013) - A segment of the proposed Iowa River Trail Trail in Marshall County has national significance as part of a nation wide trail linking both coasts of the United States.  The American Discovery Trail stretches for 6,800 miles from Delaware to California and is the nation's first coast-to-coast non motorized trail linking connecting cities, small towns, urban, rural, forests, mountains and prairies across the United States.

From the ADT's web site:  "The ADT is all about connections - people to people, community to community, urban areas to wilderness.  It provides the opportunity for the most adventurous to travel from coast to coast, truly discovering the heart of America.  More importantly, it provides millions access to a trail system that improves quality of life and protects our natural resources.  The ADT connects five National Scenic, 12 National Historic, and 34 National Recreational Trails; passes through urban centers like Cincinnati and San Francisco; leads to 14 National Parks and 16 National Forests; and visits 10,000 sites of historic, cultural and natural significance.  It is truly the backbone of the National Trails System."  Several individuals have hiked the entire length of the trail across the US and have shared their travel journals which can be found on the internet.

In Iowa, the northern route of the ADT enters the state near Davenport and crisscrosses the state, eventually departing from Council Bluffs.  The Iowa route of the ADT incorporates a number of existing multi use recreational trails with the balance of the route on more lightly traveled highways and roads.

Locally, the official ADT route follows the Comet Trail from Beaman to Conrad and continues west on highway D-67 to the Grundy/Hardin County line, where it turns south on S-75 traveling through Liscomb to Albion.  The route then continues south from Albion on Highway 330 where it eventually jogs back into Marshalltown before heading back south toward Melbourne where it connects to the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail.

The completion of the Iowa River Rail Trail will add yet another recreational trail link to the ADT and provide a much safer corridor for users to enjoy on this stretch of the American Discovery Trail.

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (August 10, 2013) -
Members of the Central Iowa Snowmobilers Club, a very active group of snowmobile enthusiasts from Marshall, Grundy, Hardin, Tama and Story Counties, have been working to procure enough bridge decking material to cover every bridge on the proposed trail!  The material was donated by the Union Pacific Railroad, and members of the club are donating their time and equipment to haul the material home and eventually install it.  Thank you!

LISCOMB, IOWA - (August 3, 2013)
- Removal of the rails, ties and other railroad salvageable items began on the IARR corridor in July.  Starting in Marshalltown, crews have been working their way north and were observed working between Albion and Liscomb the last week of July as seen in the photos below.  Salvage work is anticipated to be completed during the month of September:

Rails and ties removed on the north side of Albion.

Crews removing tracks south of Liscomb.

HARDIN & MARSHALL COUNTY, IOWA - (July 31, 2013) - The Iowa River Rail Trail project is moving forward!  Steering committee members will be presenting a resolution to the cities of Eldora, Steamboat Rock and Union during each of those cities' respective council meetings during the month of August encouraging each city council to support the project through their respective communities.  Passing these resolutions is an important milestone and will help strengthen grant applications submitted on behalf of the project.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation submitted a funding request to the Iowa State Recreational Trails Program on behalf of Hardin County and the City of Marshalltown on the first of July.  Andrea Chase, Trails Coordinator for the INHF, shared that the application contained more letters of support than any other she had prepared during her career indicating the strong local support for this project.

The rail corridor was officially purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in July.  Through this action, INHF holds the title to the property preserving it for trail development until local government jurisdictions can take over ownership of the property.  Rail salvage is underway and should be completed by September.

A community group of leaders in Marshalltown have organized a non-profit organization to benefit the trail project called Trail Resources and Iowa Land Stewards, Inc (Trails, Inc) lead by Joel Greer.  Hardin County Recreational Trail Committee Members will meet with the group soon to discuss long range planning for the project.

This project is a tremendous opportunity for Hardin and Marshall Counties.  Educating local citizens about the benefits this project will bring to the Greenbelt is extremely important.  Take the time to talk with your friends, neighbors and especially your local elected officials and voice your support for the Iowa River Rail Trail Project!

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (July 9, 2013) - "Bike Trail Supporters form Non Profit" by David Alexander, Staff Writer - Marshalltown Times-Republican

ELDORA, IOWA - (July 6, 2013) -
"Rail Bed Eyed for Big Trail Segment" by Rick Patrie, News Editor - Hardin County Index

UNION, IOWA - (July 6, 2013) -  "New Bike Trail in the Works to Pass Through Union, Liscomb" by Rob Maharry, Editor - The Conrad Record

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (June 25, 2013) - "Council OKs Trail Use of Old Railroad Corridor" by David Alexander, Staff Writer - Marshalltown Times-Republican

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (June 23, 2013) - "City Council Should Vote Yes to Support Trail" by editorial staff - Marshalltown Times-Republican

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (June 23, 2013) - "City Considers Acquiring Land for Bike Path Expansion" by David Alexander, Staff Writer - Marshalltown Times-Republican