State awards contract for second phase of Eastern Kentucky’s Dawkins Line Rail Trail

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2014) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced the awarding of a contract for construction of the next phase of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in Eastern Kentucky – soon to be the longest trail of its kind in the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) awarded the contract to Mountain Enterprises Inc. on a low bid of $1.47 million.

“This second phase will give cyclists, hikers, horseback riders and nature enthusiasts of all kinds more area to explore on what will, when complete, become Kentucky’s longest rail trail,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “In addition to providing a new path to enjoying Kentucky’s beautiful nature offerings, the trail provides ways for our residents to stay active and healthy. We are also excited about the opportunities this will bring to the area and the state, both tourism-related and economically.”  

The first section of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, stretching 18 miles from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County, opened to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders in summer 2013. The section features 24 trestles and the 662-foot Gun Creek Tunnel.

The second phase of the project, scheduled for completion in May 2015, will extend the trail by nine miles from Royalton to near Carver Tunnel in Magoffin County, ending near the line with Breathitt County. The extension will come with such trailhead amenities as restrooms, landscaping, benches, water fountains for people and their horses, hitching posts, mounting blocks and small corrals near Hager Hill and Royalton. After the Phase II project, nine miles will remain to complete the entire, 36-mile length of the trail.

“Projects such as the Dawkins Line Rail Trail create great opportunities for residents and visitors to experience the beauty of Kentucky’s small towns, while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle,” First Lady Jane Beshear said.

The trail follows the old Dawkins Line railroad bed, which runs from Hagerhill to Evanston, in Breathitt County. The trail name comes from the Dawkins Lumber Company, which developed the rail line in the early 1900s for timber harvesting and transportation.

Its conversion to a rail trail is being undertaken by KYTC, the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The trail will be managed by the Kentucky Department of Parks.

State funding for the project was initially provided by the 2006 General Assembly. The purchase of the property from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group was finalized in 2011. 

The Dawkins Line is modeled after another successful rails-to-trails project in southwest Virginia – the 34-mile-long Virginia Creeper Trail, which draws more than 200,000 visitors a year and has led to new businesses with a positive economic impact.
Trail projects support Gov. Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow in February as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

Information about the Dawkins Line Rail Trail is at 



From Governor’s Communications Office