A former railroad line is being converted to a new trail for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists and will be the latest adventure tourism attraction for Eastern Kentucky.
Known as the Dawkins Line – in homage to the Dawkins Lumber Co., which developed the rail line in the early 1900s – the 36-mile stretch runs through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties and will be managed by the Kentucky State Parks. The trail will be developed in phases. Once complete, the Dawkins Line will be the longest rail-to-trail project in the state.
In announcing the project, Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, pointed to the success of the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail in southwest Virginia, which has brought new businesses and shops to the communities along the trail, resulting in a positive economic impact.
The Kentucky State Parks have received a multi-county coal severance grant of $500,000 to help support development of the trail, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is providing the Department of Parks with up to $2 million in transportation program funding for the transformation of the Dawkins Line into a multi-use trail.