Who We Are
Rail 66 Country Trail is a non-motorized, 4-season trail that currently extends 15 miles through the scenic countryside of northern Clarion County near the Village of Lucinda on the historic Knox-Kane railroad bed. The 20.1 mile corridor of the Knox to Kane rail bed aka Rail 66 Country Trail starts at Clarion Junction (Rt 322) in Paint Township and stretches north along Rt 66 to the Clarion/Forest County line in the Village of Vowinckel. Beyond the county line it extends through Forest, Elk and McKean Counties. The trail directly connects to the North Country National Scenic Trail, the Baker Trail and BicyclePA Route V.
It’s located just a few miles from Cook Forest State Park, the Allegheny National Forest, State Game Lands, Clarion Highlands Trail and ultimately to the Sandy Creek Trail, the Allegheny River Trail and, the Redbank Valley Trail.
Rail 66 Country Trail a/k/a Rail 66, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, was created and now owns a permanent easement for 20.1 miles of the corridor in Clarion County. Volunteers invested many hours and local donors gave thousands of dollars for the effort. Rail 66 members use, maintain and support the trail.
The old B&O lives on as a rail trail, providing recreation and economic development in Northwest Pennsylvania by tying together numerous communities, several trail systems, two state parks and the Allegheny National Forest.
The reason for not allowing ATV’s, dirt bikes, snowmobiles , or horses on the trail?
The trail was purchased and developed by private donations and grants and is covered by liability insurance that prohibit the use of motorized vehicles. ATV, dirt bike, snowmobile and equine use raise liability issues that insurers are unwilling to accept and grants prohibit. Motorized recreational vehicles are not conducive to the safety of our ever-growing number of trail users because of speed and the narrowness of the corridor. Motorized vehicles and horses pose a serious safety hazard to pedestrians, children on bicycles and in strollers and the general cycling community and degrade the trail surface. Electric wheelchairs and similar electric vehicles for the handicapped are allowed.
Accommodating motorized vehicles would require two trails divided by a safety barrier. The Rail 66 property is too narrow to construct two separate trails. Restricting motorized vehicle use must be strictly enforced.
Who owns the trail?
Rail66 Country Trail, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization owns the trail corridor in Clarion County. The rail line was rail-banked, preserved for future use as a railroad, while allowing its current use for trail purposes. The rail trail was deeded to Rail 66 in fee simple.
What is railbanking?
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.
Railbanking takes place during the rail corridor abandonment process, and official negotiations with the railroad can begin only after the railroad submits an initial notification to abandon the line to the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Any qualified private organization or public agency that has agreed to maintain the corridor for future rail use is eligible to negotiate for railbanking. During negotiations, the railroad is permitted to remove all its equipment and materials, except for bridges, tunnels and culverts, from a corridor.
If railbanking negotiations fail, the railroad will usually proceed with line abandonment. If negotiations succeed, a railbanking agreement will be established, and the railroad will turn the corridor over to the qualified private organization or public agency. This property transfer precludes abandonment. In other words, because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased or donated to a trail manager without reverting to adjacent landowners.
The abandoning railroad has the right to re-establish rail service on a rail-banked corridor. Should that occur, the trail-managing agency ordinarily is entitled to fair market compensation from the railroad seeking to re-establish rail service. However, to avoid disputes, this issue should be specifically addressed as a contingency in the initial contract with the abandoning railroad.
This information was provided by the Rails-to- Trails Conservancy website. Visit their site to learn more about the history of railbanking in the US.
What is funding to Rail 66 used for?
All funding that has been obtained by Rail 66, whether grants, donations or fundraisers, has gone directly to building and maintaining the Rail 66 Country Trail. Rail 66 is a volunteer run organization, including the board of directors. There are no salaried personnel.