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MKT Trail a Katy forerunner

MKT Trail a Katy forerunner

The abandoned MKT railway before trail construction
Former Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman was pedaling his one-speed bicycle back to Columbia from the Katy Trail’s 20th anniversary celebration in Rocheport when he recalled the early days of the trail development campaign.
The first stretch of the trail linked Rocheport and Huntsdale, and Hindman, a key advocate in the area’s rails-to-trails movement, was trying to persuade business owners in Rocheport to cater to trail bikers and hikers. But none thought it would be worth the effort. Finally, Hindman said, a church set up a trail-side refreshment stand and demonstrated the business potential.
Now, Rocheport bills itself as “the scenic gateway to the Katy Trail State Park.” Businesses that try to convert trail users to customers include the Trailside Café & Bike Shop, the Rocheport General Store, Abigails restaurant, the Les Bourgeois Winery and Bistro, seven inns and more than a dozen galleries and shops. Huntsdale’s main business on the trail is Katfish Katy’s, a general store and campground.
Columbia businesses also cater to bicyclists who use the MKT Trail, a spur of the Katy Trail that starts in McBain at Hindman Junction. Hindman, the namesake, was riding a fat-tired bike lent to him by the Rocheport bike shop.
Here are excerpts of the MKT Trail’s history from the city’s website:
The Hinkson and Flat Branch creeks contained the right-of-way of the 8.5 mile Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad line from Columbia to McBaine.
In 1977, MKT railroad abandoned the right of way. The following year, Columbia Parks and Recreation Department applied for and received a grant for $240,000 from the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act from the U.S. Department of Interior. The estimated cost to purchase and develop the land was $275,000. Columbia was one of the first 10 pilot projects in the United States.
Between 1979 and 1982, the city agreed to purchase the quit-claim deed from the railroad for $17,725, but the railroad only owned about 25 percent of the right of way. So, the city began the arduous task of buying the remaining right of way from individual landowners. This process was much more time-consuming and expensive than planned. Several landowners were opposed to the project and filed suit to stop it.
The grant was renegotiated to include only the 4.3 mile section from Stewart Road to Scott’s Boulevard. The rest of the trail to McBaine was developed in three phases. The first, which opened in 1982, was the 3.3 mile section from Stadium Boulevard to Scott’s Boulevard.

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