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Jim Thorpe in Carbon County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

From Rails to Trails

 
 
From Rails to Trails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 25, 2019
1. From Rails to Trails Marker
Inscription.  "Since most of the land was donated to the railroads by the American public in the first place, we believe it should be returned to the public."
David Burwell, President,
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1988

A Well-Worn Path
The path you are following was once an active rail line. The trains shipped Pennsylvania' coal, lumber, and ore to larger markets, such as Philadelphia and New York, and returned with finished goods. This process of exchange fueled the American Industrial Revolution, which relied on fast and dependable transportation networks. In the first half of the nineteenth century, newly built canals played this role. After the Civil War, however, railroads increasingly competed with their slower rivals and dominated for the next century. Only the post-World War II proliferation of long-distance trucking and the abundance of cheap fuel stifled the era of railroads.

Preserving Passageways
As trucks increasingly diminished the demand for trains, hundreds of railroad companies were forced to file for bankruptcy and sell or abandon their former lines. Congress' response was the 1980 Staggers Rail
From Rails to Trails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 25, 2019
2. From Rails to Trails Marker
Act, which streamlined the process of selling or transferring abandoned rail lines and property. In 1983, the National Trails System Act was amended to allow for "rail-banking" of dormant lines. Rail-banking is based on the idea that rail corridors (graded, connected, open space) should be preserved, in case the need for rail transportation ever materializes in the future. Meanwhile, these corridors are made available for hiking, walking, and bike riding. Rail-banking was not the only means of creating trails on old railroad right-of-ways. Out of nearly 100 rail trails in Pennsylvania, only seven are on rail-banked corridors. The rest are on land the government purchased from railroad companies or on old rail beds reverted back to private property and publicly accessed through easements.

Restoring Connections
When not on the canal towpath, the 165-mile D&L Trail follows dozens of miles of former rail beds — 26 miles run through Lehigh Gorge State Park alone. A number of regional rail trails intersect the D&L Trail, from the Switchback and Ironton trails in Carbon and Lehigh counties to the Nor-Bath and Spurline trails in Northampton and Bucks counties. These links create a network of trails that restore the vanished connections between communities and natural places.

Not As Easy As It Sounds
Former rail beds provide paths, but ones that are
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full of large rocks, or ballast, which make riding bikes and walking difficult. Improving a rail trail often requires removing heavy timber ties and steel rails, rolling the ballast, filling it in with soil or cinders, and sometimes paving sections. Even after the construction is complete, regular maintenance is an ongoing challenge that requires long-term partnerships between volunteers, land managers, and local municipalities.
 
Erected by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasRailroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Lehigh Canal series list.
 
Location. 40° 52.055′ N, 75° 44.187′ W. Marker is in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in Carbon County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Lehigh Avenue (U.S. 209) and Lehigh Gorge Trail. Marker is located along the Lehigh Gorge Trail, 3/10 mile north of the Jim Thorpe Municipal Parking lot entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Susquehanna Street, Jim Thorpe PA 18229, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Exploring The Corridor (here, next to this marker); Overcoming Geography (approx. 0.2
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miles away); Joe Boyle Plaza (approx. ¼ mile away); The Soldiers and Sailors Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); The Self Made Man (approx. ¼ mile away); Carbon County (approx. ¼ mile away); National War Savings Campaign of 1918 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Packer Mansion (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jim Thorpe.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. (Submitted on July 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Lehigh Gorge State Park. The Lehigh Gorge Trail follows more than 20 miles of the D&L Trail, the foundation of the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The abandoned railroad grade along the river provides opportunities for hiking, bicycling, sightseeing, and photography. (Submitted on July 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 25, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Feb. 25, 2021