The John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Washington State: Rails-to-trails to ... Rails and Trails?

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Spring 2010


Rail trails are well regarded for providing recreation, transportation, greenspace, and economic opportunities to local communities. However, one aspect that is sometimes overlooked is their value in terms of connecting a community to natural history and material culture. Because most rail trails are technically being utilized for recreation on an interim basis, the potential for a rail trail corridor to return to rail usage also means the potential for both the recreational opportunities and the community connection to the natural history and material culture of the corridor to be lost. This research examines the conversion of the Milwaukee Road in Washington State from a railroad corridor to a non-motorized recreational trail and evaluates the feasibility of establishing an alternate route for non-motorized recreation in the event that railroad usage returns to the corridor. This study utilized both field reconnaissance and Geographic Information System technologies in its methodology. The results show that opportunities do exist for an alternate route, primarily on public lands. The model developed in this research emphasizes the incorporation of connections with both natural history and material culture. The model can be utilized in other situations where rails-to-trails projects are reverting to rail usage and alternative routes are desired.


This article was originally published in Material Culture. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Material Culture


© 2010 International Society for Landscape, Place & Material Culture