Farm Heritage Trail Lebanon Thorntown
The Farm Heritage Trail is a vision of a 60+ mile multi-use connection between The Cultural Trail in downtown Indianapolis and Prophetstown State Park in Prophetstown, just north of Lafayette, Indiana. The Farm Heritage Trail is actually a series of trails, some open, some not, some under construction, in Marion, Boone, Clinton and Tippecanoe counties.
They are all flat, linear paths as they follow the rail line. This trail is being supported by various individual groups and partners, the most active being the Friends of Boone County Trails.
The Keewasaki Trail in Thorntown is one of the best examples of their work. This is a 1 ½ mile paved trail commencing in downtown Thorntown and ending at the Sugar Creek Bridge(1 ½ miles north); it extends even further north of the Sugar Creek Bridge as a natural surface. This is the centerpiece of master trails planned for the county. Named after the Indian tribe that used to live there(the Keewasakis), it is near beautiful Sugar Creek Arts Center that has art displays and classes, a beautiful city building, and an historic library with an attractive fountain in front of it. See our full description under “Keewasaki Trail-Thorntown”.
South of Lebanon the path extends onto city streets, which has already been built. This passes by the Boone County Courthouse which boasts the largest 1-piece limestone pillars in the U.S. There will be historical signs and plaques along the trail in Boone County, as well as mile markers (Cross Buck markers, which is the original railroad mileage) Also in the plans, are more trees, plastic bags for trash, park benches, and restrooms.
The trail will be regularly patrolled and maintained. The Boone County portion of the Farm Heritage has all kinds of wildlife, especially birds, where volunteers have provided birdhouses and bird food. The trail is presently dirt with some portions of gravel, and Keewasaki being paved. In addition to parking in Thorntown, one can park in Lebanon at the Sam Ralston Road Trailhead, just north of SR #32.
Lots of volunteers for the Friends of Boone County Trails have helped develop the FHT so far. If you want to help in the future contact the Friends of Boone County Trails. In addition a $700,000 grant from Governor Mitch Daniels helped build the northern Boone County section. (10 miles between Lebanon, Thorntown, and the northern border of Boone County) Some features are a cemetery, a park with flowerbeds, basketball courts, and native plants and trees. There are camps for kids who plant, weed, clean, recycle, and do other fun activities along the trail.
There are programs for kids teaching adults, as well as kids making wares they sell, such as from pop tabs. “Edible landscaping” is happening along the trail, where all plants are digestible. Another happening going on on this area of the trail are trail wagons for the disabled to experience the path. Other programs are being planned!
As for the southern Boone County developments of the Farm Heritage, not much has been done, but developments are on the way as a recent Transportation Enhancement Grant of almost $1 million has been received from INDOT. This type of grant still needs some additional matching money, however plans are for completion by 2012. This south side of Lebanon area connects the east and west half of the county, being the only path which crosses I65. The path is currently rough gravel, however, it will eventually mostly be paved, according to ADA standards. This area is all tree-lined.
As far as the rest of the Farm Heritage outside of Boone County, starting as far south as Indianapolis, there is the Cultural Trail, all paved on city streets and ADA approved, located mostly in downtown Indianapolis, and to be completed by the end of 2011. (In time for the Superbowl!) The trail will also extend to the well-known Fountain Square neighborhood and to the Monon where visitors can have further access north to Broad Ripple village and beyond.
The next area north of this path in Indianapolis, is the paved asphalt Nancy Burton/Zionsville Trails which are completed in Zionsville, just northeast of Indianapolis. (See our “Nancy Burton/Zionsville Trails”) North of Boone County just described here, is a small area(0.5 miles) open in Colfax, Clinton County. The next county north, Tippecanoe County, there is a small section open just southeast of Lafayette, for equestrian use only. In Lafayette 1.5 miles is open between Beek Lane and 18th Street (Lafayette Linear Park). Please note that some of the land between Lebanon (Boone County) and Colfax (Clinton County) is still in the process of being acquired. The developments of the Farm Heritage in Clinton and Tippecanoe Counties are still in the works. Stay tuned!
The beginnings of the Farm Heritage Trail go back to about 1850 when one of the earliest lines in Indiana was built from Indianapolis to La Fayette. Through mergers in 1880, it became the Cincinati Chicago & St Louis Rail Line, which connected Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago.
The line merged again in 1889 to connect to Cleveland, becoming the Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago &St Louis Line. Commonly called the Big Four, it became part of the New York Central Railroad System in 1930. The line then merged once again with the Pennsylvania Rail Road in 1968 becoming Penn Central. It reorganized in 1976 as “Conrail”. Now long abandoned, it offers hikers, bikers, and horseback riders the only attraction and experience of its kind in the nation. It brings recreational opportunities to under-served rural areas and provides an outdoor classroom for agriculture, nature, and history. Agri-tourism attractions are provided along this trail, connecting rural, urban, and suburban areas. The Farm Heritage Trail is a transportation link between Indianapolis and northwest to Lafayette, Indiana. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln rode line for his inauguration, speaking in Zionsville and Lebanon. Sadly in 1865 his funeral train passed over this line.
The Farm Heritage Trail began as a vision connecting major areas in Indiana along the old CCC&SL rail line as a multi-use trail (hikers,runners, bikers, in some parts skaters, in small areas equestrian riders[although the path in Boone County has land designated for equestrian use, but has not of yet been developed by any equestrian group]). Much has been completed between Indianapolis and Prophetstown, Indiana, and much is still in various stages of development. Visitors can use this path for a unique pleasure and learning experience, or as a transportation route connecting many important areas. Supported by enthusiastic volunteers alone, such as the Friends of Boone County Trails, plus recent funding, the Farm Heritage is to be re-visited often to gain a full experience as well as to continue to see the progress and developments!
References: David Cook and Sheryll Tony of the Friends of Boone Count