In the heart of Springfield’s McKnight Neighborhood, there is a long-forgotten railroad corridor that stretches around the neighborhood like a lucky horseshoe. Nestled between homes and cemeteries, industrial areas, and long stretches of hidden woods and streams, lies a great opportunity for the McKnight Community and City of Springfield.
The McKnight Rail-Trail is approximately two miles of abandoned railroad corridor. The tracks have been removed, but the wooden rail ties still remain—now almost entirely hidden beneath the flourishing flora and fauna.
The former corridor is a testament to the great possibilities and diversity of the neighborhood and city. On portions of the trail there are no visible structures—only trees rise up quietly from rail banks that used to rumble with freight cars. What a blessing to be surrounded by nature, and to feel alone in a city of 150,000. Walk a little farther, and giant blue industrial fuel storage tanks rise up, a reminder of our city’s industrial past and present. An old train bridge still stands on its granite foundation, its steel girders waiting for new wooden planks to hold up hikers and bikers. A hawk circles over the dry grass and disappears into the woods. In a sense, the corridor is a linear park that gets few visitors, but has a growing fan base.
In brief, what we’re trying to do is to turn the abandoned rail line into a hiking and biking trail. A task no doubt easier said than done. We can do it, but we cannot do it alone. Go for a hike on this blog to learn more about the trail. If you would like to learn how you can get involved, please contact us—and don’t forget to take a virtual tour of the trail while you’re here.