Rock Island Line Corridor

On Dec. 14, 2021, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources accepted ownership of the Rock Island Corridor. The department plans to develop the 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad corridor, which stretches from Windsor to Beaufort into a public recreational trail. Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, donated the property at no cost to the state. Development of the trail will occur in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor has different features and challenges.

To view photo of the Rock Island Corridor, click here.

In January 2022, Missouri State Parks held Rock Island Corridor public meetings in Versailles, Owensville, and Freeburg. The open house-style meetings gathered public input, and gathered the needs and goals of each community and the landowners along the corridor. The meetings included information about trail development and operations, public safety, landowner and real estate topics, grant opportunities and future partnership opportunities. To view the information provided at the public meetings, use the button below or click here

Fencing Information

The Missouri State Parks team is scheduling meetings with adjacent landowners along the Rock Island 144-mile trail who expressed interest in fencing opportunities during the public meetings held in their communities or who had previously reached out to us concerning this issue. If you are an adjacent landowner and would like to discuss fencing options, please contact us at 573-449-7402 or at moparks@dnr.mo.gov. To download information on fencing, click here.

Informational Materials

Community Assessment Meetings

Missouri State Parks will be holding a series of community assessment meetings with elected officials, local business owners and community members to discuss potential grant and partnership opportunities along the corridor. The details of scheduled meetings can be found below. If your community is interested in holding a meeting, please email moparks@dnr.mo.gov.

Jan. 17, 2022 6 p.m. Eldon Community Assessment Eldon Career Center, 112 S Pine St, Eldon
Jan. 17, 2022 7 p.m. Versailles Community Assessment Morgan County Library; 600 N. Hunter St, Versailles
Jan. 20, 2022 7:30 p.m. Owensville Community Assessment Owensville City Hall Council Chambers, 107 W. Sears Ave, Owensville
March 2, 2022 6 p.m. Stover Community Assessment Stover City Hall, 107 W. 2nd St.
March 3, 2022 6 p.m. Belle Community Assessment Belle City Hall, 200 E. 3rd St.
March 7, 2022 6:30 p.m. Freeburg Community Assessment Freeburg Town Hall 304 S Highway 63
March 8, 2022 6 p.m. Rosebud Community Assessment Rosebud City Hall, 307 N. Cedar, Rosebud
March 15, 2022 6 p.m. Cole Camp Community Assessment The German Table, 107 East Main St, Cole Camp
April 7, 2022 6 p.m. Windsor Community Assessment Windsor City Hall, 125 S. Main St, Windsor
April 8, 2022 9 a.m. Cole County Commission Cole County Courthouse, 311 E High St., Jefferson City
April 11, 2022 6 p.m. Gerald Community Assessment Gerald Lions Hall, 120 N. Bernhardt Ave, Gerald
April 21, 2022 7 p.m. Argyle/Leslie Community Assessment Knights of Columbus, 513 2nd St, Argyle
May 11, 2022 7 p.m. Morgan County Mennonites Community Assessment Show Me Auction Center, 17829 Shadey Brook Dr, Versailles
May 12, 2022 6 p.m. Barnett Community Assessment Barnett Baptist Church, 714 3rd St, Barnett
June 2, 2022 6:30 p.m. Bland Community Assessment Bland City Hall, 109 Colorado Ave, Bland
June 2, 2022 9:00 a.m. Gasconade County Commission Owensville City Hall Council Chambers, 107 W Sears Ave, Owensville
July 11, 2022 6:00 p.m. Eugene Community Assessment Eugene Christian Church, 10606 Tunnel Street, Eugene
July 15, 2022 8:30 a.m. Morgan County Commission Morgan County Courthouse, 100 E. Newton, Versailles
July 20, 2022 9:00 a.m. Miller County Commission Miller County Courthouse, 2001 Hwy 52, Tuscumbia
July 25, 2022 1:00 p.m. Benton County Commission Benton County Courthouse, 316 Van Buren St, Warsaw

You can assist with the development of the Rock Island Trail by making a donation to the Missouri State Parks Foundation. Donate online or mail your check to:

Missouri State Parks Foundation
P.O. Box 1002
Columbia, MO 65205-1002

All checks should be made payable to the Missouri State Parks Foundation.

Donate Here

Frequently Asked Questions

This information is for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

1. What is the Rock Island corridor?

2. Who is the current owner of the Rock Island Corridor?

3. How was the corridor transferred to Missouri State Parks for the development of a recreational trail?

4. Now that the department owns the Rock Island Corridor, what happens next?

5. How much will it cost to build the 144 miles of trail?

6. Could Missouri State Parks build the trail in sections over the years, similar to the Katy Trail?

7. Where will the money come from to build the trail?

8. I’m interested in making a donation. How do I get started?

9. Why did Missouri State Parks take so much time to make a decision regarding the corridor?

10. How will Missouri State Parks address fencing needs for private property along the trail?

11. I farm on both sides of the tracks. How do I get my livestock and farm equipment across the trail?

12. Will private crossings still exist?

13. What if someone comes onto my property?

1. What is the Rock Island corridor?
The Rock Island Corridor is a 144.3 mile section of the former Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad that runs from Windsor, Mo., to Beaufort, Mo.

2. Who is the current owner of the Rock Island Corridor?
On Dec. 14, 2021, Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri donated all of its right, title and interest in the corridor to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, in accordance with the term of an Interim Trail Use Agreement signed on December 17, 2019. Now that the department is the owner of the property, the Rock Island Corridor will be managed for recreational trail purposes by Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

3. How was the corridor transferred to Missouri State Parks for the development of a recreational trail?
The National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d) and 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29, established a process known as “railbanking.” Railbanking is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. Because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased or donated to a trail manager.

In response to a request submitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, with concurrence from Missouri Central Railroad, the Surface Transportation Board, a federal adjudicatory board responsible for economic regulatory oversight of railroads, issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use Feb. 25, 2015. The Notice of Interim Trail Use authorized the department to negotiate with Missouri Central Railroad for acquisition of the right-of-way for use as a trail under the National Trails System Act. Per 49 CFR Section 1152.29, any interim trail use agreement must include provisions requiring the sponsor to fulfill the following responsibilities:

(i) Managing the right-of-way;
(ii) Any legal liability arising out of the transfer or use of the right-of-way (unless the user is immune from liability, in which case it need only indemnify the railroad against any potential liability); and
(iii) The payment of any and all taxes that may be levied or assessed against the right-of-way.

The department and Missouri Central Railroad signed the Interim Trail Use Agreement on Dec. 17, 2019, and almost exactly two years later, on Dec. 14, 2021, Missouri Central Railroad donated the property to the Department, ensuring the preservation of the former railroad corridor for future transportation use and paving the way for the development of a new public recreational trail.

Signing this agreement, establishment of a dedicated fund, and conducting due diligence activities were the first, necessary steps for the department to move forward with potential acceptance of the corridor. Legislation was enacted in 2019 to establish a dedicated "Rock Island Trail State Park Endowment Fund" to ensure all funds received or otherwise allocated to the Rock Island Trail State Park effort are used in support of this purpose and not spent for any other reasons. (Section 253.177, RSMo).

On Nov. 8, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $5.7 million in American Rescue Plan State Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grants to Missouri, and the state is prepared to apply $2.7 million of this award to offset the initial cost of acceptance of the corridor. Additionally, the Missouri State Parks Foundation has received confirmed cash and pledges amounting to $846,979 to support the trail and have identified additional opportunities totaling approximately $1 million. Many communities along the corridor have expressed interest in pursuing federal and other grant funding opportunities to assist with the development of the trail. The American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and Congressional earmarks may also be possible sources of funding.

4. Now that the department owns the Rock Island Corridor, what happens next?
The state will conduct a planning process for the corridor which will help determine developmental and operational plans, including the future name of the trail.

5. How much will it cost to build the 144 miles of trail?
An estimated total of $100 million will ultimately be needed to fully develop the trail. The project’s funding will likely require a combination of private, public and corporate sources. Interested donors should contact the Missouri State Parks Foundation to learn more about partnering in this effort.

In the interim, the corridor is not open for public use and trespassers will be prosecuted in accordance with Chapter 569, RSMo; Section 253.035; RSMo and 10 CSR 90-2.040(6).

6. Could Missouri State Parks build the trail in sections over the years, similar to the Katy Trail?
Yes. It will not be possible to develop the trail all at once. Development of the trail will occur in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor has different features and challenges.

The Katy Trail would not have been possible without the generosity of Ted and Pat Jones and partnerships like this will be important for the future of the Rock Island Corridor. As with the development of the Katy Trail, development of the Rock Island Corridor will require additional partnerships and commitments.

7. Where will the money come from to build the trail?
The project’s funding will likely require a combination of private, public and corporate sources.

8. I’m interested in making a donation. How do I get started?
You can assist with the acquisition and development of the Rock Island Trail by making a donation to the Missouri State Parks Foundation.
Click here to donate online or mail your check to:

Missouri State Parks Foundation
P.O. Box 1002
Columbia, MO 65205-1002

9. Why did Missouri State Parks take so much time to make a decision regarding the corridor?
The conversion of the corridor into a trail stands to be a significant project, and it was essential for Missouri State Parks to gain a further understanding of the costs, liabilities, and benefits of this potential project. Additionally, as has been the experience with the Katy Trail, the development of a trail and its ongoing operation and maintenance is a large responsibility that requires significant financial resources.

10. How will Missouri State Parks address fencing needs for private property along the trail?
It is the intent of Missouri State Parks to work cooperatively with adjacent landowners along the corridor. State law requires Missouri State Parks to maintain any fencing along the Rock Island Corridor. Upon request, Missouri State Parks may provide fencing materials to adjacent landowners for construction of new fencing if funding allows. If you are a landowner along the trail and have questions, please email moparks@dnr.mo.gov.

11. I farm on both sides of the tracks. How do I get my livestock and farm equipment across the trail?
Missouri State Parks has entered into agreements with adjacent landowners to accommodate these types of requests along the Katy Trail and will work with landowners along the Rock Island Corridor as well.

12. Will private crossings still exist?
Yes. Missouri State Parks will honor any preexisting real estate agreements between landowners and Missouri Central Railroad. Missouri State Parks will work with landowners to develop new agreements to allow crossings, access, and occupations of the corridor where needed upon request.

13. What if someone comes onto my property?
Missouri State Parks takes the concerns of adjacent landowners seriously, especially with respect to the potential for intrusion onto private property. As has been the practice on the Katy Trail, it is the intent of Missouri State Parks to work cooperatively with adjacent landowners along the corridor. Missouri statutes provide protections to landowners adjacent to recreational trails. In addition to statutory protections, Missouri State Parks has worked cooperatively with landowners adjacent to Katy Trail State Park to help minimize the likelihood for trespass from the trail onto adjoining property. This was accomplished primarily by marking the boundaries of state park property with signs placed at regular intervals, which also warn trail users not to trespass. This message is also provided via signage and brochures at all trailhead information depots. Missouri State Parks will develop similar measures for the Rock Island Corridor as well.

Links of Interest

Surface Transportation Board
The Surface Transportation Board is an independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers.

Surface Transportation Board Docket Search
Enter Docket No. AB-1068 (Sub-No. 3X) (Missouri Central Railroad Company- Abandonment Exemption- In Cass, Pettis, Benton, Morgan, Miller, Cole, Osage, Maries, Gasconade, and Franklin Counties, Missouri) to find specific information related to the Rock Island Line Corridor.

Katy Trail State Park
Built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT or Katy), the park is 240 miles long and runs between Clinton and Machens with 26 trailheads and four fully restored railroad depots along the way.

Summary of Rock Island Corridor Condition
Missouri State Parks Planning and Development program staff conducted a visual inspection of the Rock Island corridor from mile marker 72 near Beaufort, Missouri, to mile marker 215 near Windsor over a series of trips from April 30, 2018 to May 23, 2018.

Public Comments

2018 Survey Responses

The following 1,875 comments were gathered during a public comment period, which ended Nov. 30, 2018. These comments do not reflect the opinion of the State of Missouri or the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, nor are these entities responsible for the content or the factual accuracy of the comments. The responses have not been edited or otherwise altered, except to remove names and other identifying statements, and potentially offensive language. The public comments were provided in response to the following question:

Based upon information provided by Missouri State Parks regarding the Rock Island Line Corridor, are there any additional factors you believe Missouri State Parks should consider?

RILC_Comments_Nov2018.pdf

2017 Survey Responses

The following 8,685 comments were gathered during a public comment period, which ended August 31, 2017. These comments do not reflect the opinion of the State of Missouri or the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, nor are these entities responsible for the content or the factual accuracy of the comments. The responses have not been edited or otherwise altered, except to remove names and other identifying statements, and potentially offensive language. The public comments were provided in response to the following question:

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering entering into an Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad for the purpose of developing the Rock Island Trail Project, a conversion of the former Rock Island Railroad corridor into a 144.3 mile long recreational trail from Windsor, MO, to Beaufort, MO.

Please provide your thoughts, comments, and suggestions regarding DNR entering into an Interim Trail Use Agreement and the Rock Island Trail Project.

RILC_Comments_Aug2017.pdf (This PDF file is approx. 3MB.)

Organization/Public Entity Comment Letters

The following letters were submitted by cities or organizations in reference to the Rock Island Line Corridor. These letters do not reflect the opinion of the State of Missouri or the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, nor are these entities responsible for the content or the factual accuracy of the information contained in the letters. The letters have not been edited or otherwise altered.

March 16, 2017 - City of Springfield

May 11, 2017 - City of Rolla

June 23, 2017 - City of Chesterfield

June 28, 2017 - Spirit Trail Coalition / Johnson County Commission

August 3, 2017 - City of Owensville

August 18, 2017 - Adventure Cycling Association

August 24, 2017 - Missouri Farm Bureau Federation

August 28, 2017 - City of Warsaw

August 29, 2017 - Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission

June 18, 2018 - City of Versailles

June 21, 2018 - City of Barnett

July 1, 2018 - City of Stover

August 10, 2018 - City of Greenwood

August 14, 2018 - City of Lee's Summit

August 22, 2018 - Community Foundation of the Ozarks

October 29, 2018 - Capital Region Medical Center

November 5, 2018 - Missourians for Responsible Transportation

November 27, 2018 - Cole Camp Trails Committee

Informational Meetings

On Dec. 14, 2021, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources accepted ownership of the Rock Island Corridor. The department plans to develop the 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad corridor, which stretches from Windsor to Beaufort, Missouri, into a public recreational trail. Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, donated the property at no cost to the state.

The department entered into an Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad Company in 2019 to railbank this section of the Rock Island Corridor. Railbanking, established in 1983 as an amendment to Section 8(d) of the National Trails System Act, is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. This interim trail use of railbanked corridors has preserved thousands of miles of rail corridors that would otherwise have been abandoned.

Development of the trail will occur in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor has different features and challenges. In January 2022, Missouri State Parks held Rock Island Corridor public meetings in Versailles, Owensville, and Freeburg. The open house-style meetings gathered public input, and gathered the needs and goals of each community and the landowners along the corridor. The meetings included information about trail development and operations, public safety, landowner and real estate topics, grant opportunities and future partnership opportunities. To view the information provided at the public meetings, click here.

Tuesday,Jan. 18, 2022
Time: 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Morgan County Library
600 N. Hunter Street
Versailles MO

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022
Time: 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Scenic Regional Library-Owensville Branch
503 South Olive Street
Owensville MO

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022
Time: 5:30 - 7 p.m.
American Legion Post 317
402 Hwy 63
Freeburg MO