Bring life back to our area’s old rail passages

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To the editor:
I think the old, rusty, unusable railroad tracks leading through Saluda, Tryon, Landrum, Campobello, Inman, Lyman and into Spartanburg should be turned into biking, hiking, horseback, bird watching and general use trails.
I don’t know the political or business/corporate implications or the hurdles to be cleared over local or state law. Nor do I care to. But it seems to me that these tracks will never transport a train again. Why don’t we consider taking these tracks and rebuilding them into safe and scenic biking and hiking tracks?
Think about the business that might bring to this special part of the country. Bike shops, cafes, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, convenience stores, art and local crafters, farmers, antiques, hotel/motel, real estate and developers. The list could go on and on.
I don’t have the solution to the obvious slowdown in local businesses. But I have an idea that might help. I am sure fighting the monopolistic railroad company’s and the federal or even local governments would not be easy. But we need people to support our local economy and that means we need people to come here and we must give them a good reason to do so.
I know for a fact that many of the older train rails used in Canada during the industrial boom have been successfully re-designed for bikers/hikers and general use. They spawned and support a vital tourist economy that continues to this day, even after being ravaged by wildfires. Railroad tracks are traditionally routed so they avoid most populated or dangerous terrain, but that also makes them inherently beautiful routes that access the most convenient stops along a beautiful route… like Saluda, Tryon, Landrum, Inman, etc. Think about the number of jobs this idea might support. I don’t think those rusty tracks are ever going to shine themselves again. Why not let us use them for a better cause? Riding a bike, riding a horse or taking a walk on a cool country trail is never a bad thing.
– William Squires, Landrum

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