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Touring Texoma: Rails to Trails

<br><br><font size=3> <P>If you like the great outdoors, and you're up for a new experience, there's one waiting for you between Wichita Falls and Holliday.</P></font>

If you like the great outdoors, and you're up for a new experience, there's one waiting for you between Wichita Falls and Holliday.

A group is turning rails to trails.. for all of us to enjoy.

Only days after this video was shot between Wichita Falls and Holliday in 1995, Lone Star Railroad sold these rails and ties for scrap.

Soon after, the North Texas Rural Rail Transportation District was born.

Jim Pettyjohn/N. Tx. Rural Rail Transportation District: "Our mission, it's already being done out there. People are running this track."

Larry Gunnell/Volunteer: "That's the whole goal. It's meant to be a hike, bike, and equestrian trail for multiple uses."

When this track came up, the North Texas Rural Rail Transportation District ended up with the ride- away between Holliday and Wichita Falls, and rails to trails was underway.

That's basically the nation- wide process of converting old railroad ride-aways to recreational trails.

Lisa Gunnell: "It's a nice jogging trail, or nature trail. We have deer. We have coyotes, although you won't see them during the day. We have roadrunners from time to time. Song birds."

Lisa gunnell is president of the group's board of directors, who says the slow work in progress will be well worth the wait.

Lisa: "Well, we have a lot of bridges to fix. That's our biggest concern."

Larry: "These are meant to be handicap accessible. We also have 3- picnic pads in Holliday already. They're already poured. And, they need to be landscaped."

Jim: "The plans are to have native trees planted all the way into Holliday, and all the native flowers we have, and then to landscape them with the bridges where there's water."

From native plants, animals, insects, you'll find it here on the trail, including a bit of history. From railroad ties to telegraph poles, which ran alongside the tracks from town to town. It was the internet of its time. All of this for free, between Holliday and Wichita Falls.

Jim: "Listen, I can just, I can see where people could go out to the countryside and see what this country looked like in its rough. And, that's what it's all about."

Jim pettyjohn says history's waiting just outside Wichita Falls, and people should check it out.

Larry gunnell agrees.

Larry: "This is a wonderful opportunity to see something that often hasn't been disturbed for a century, and it's wonderful."

Lisa: "Keeping it for future generations, keeping it here is really what's important. Once something like this is taken away, you can't really put it back. We can't bring the tracks back, but we can give people the chance to get out and enjoy nature."

Built in 1892, when Abilene wanted to do business with Wichita Falls, this railroad served its purpose for more than 100- years.

The nature trail could serve it for a hundred more.

That old video from 1995 was when Wichitan, John Christoff spearheaded the committee to save the tracks.

He and several others took the ride between Wichita Falls and Holliday.

And, those tracks were gone just a few days later.

But, as far as the trail, it's made possible through a Parks and Wildlife grant..... and volunteers.

If you'd like to volunteer, just contact Lisa Gunnell at 642-3627, or Jim Pettyjohn at 642-1535.

Lisa Gunnell says it was former State Representative, Charles Finnell who wrote legislation that created Rail Districts.

If you'd like to know about the history of railroads in our area, just contact the Wichita Falls Railroad Museum by email at wfrrm@hotmail.com.

Also, there's an entrance at Sisk Road, about a quarter mile from Southwest Parkway. Look for a blue Adopt a Highway sign. The gate is just past that.

Another is at Turkey Ranch Road, a mile or two from Highway 82. You'll see the County Line Crossing sign.

And, just as you are driving into Holliday from Wichita Falls, there's an entrance to the left on College Avenue.

Thanks for watching!!!



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