Missouri Adventures: Biking the Katy Trail

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Katy Trail State Park was once the rail bed of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad (MKT or Katy). The first Katy train rolled through St. Charles, Missouri on April 1, 1894. Once the new segment was opened a passenger could ride "The Katy" all the way from St. Louis to Galveston, Texas.  During the 1903 flood, boxcars were placed on the tracks to prevent the wooden ties from floating up and destroying the tracks.

In 1921, thieves stole $110,000 from the St. Charles Katy depot in one of the largest station and mail robberies in U.S. history. After World War II, highway travel became more popular than rail travel. Katy's ridership slowed until passenger service was discontinued in 1956. By the 1970s, the Katy railroad was to small to compete with larger rail companies. On April 11, 1986 the last Katy train rode the tracks to St. Louis.

Restoration of St. Charles began in the 1960s and today over 100 mostly brick historic buildings are within St. Charles' historic district. The area is best know for its Christmas Traditions festival that runs from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.

Today the Katy Trail stretches 237 miles, crossing nearly the entire length of Missouri (from Clinton to Machens). Over half of it follows Louis and Clark's path up the Missouri River. Its crushed limestone path is ideal for hiking, cycling, or running and is wide enough to accommodate several outdoor enthusiasts at once. The flat surface and sweeping vistas made our 20 mile ride so enjoyable. Of course it didn't hurt that the weather for our last-minute day trip was ideal. It was the perfect way to spend a summer Saturday and I can't wait to explore other sections of the trail and see what it's like during different seasons of the year.

Historical account taken from trail information plaques and the Katy Trail Missouri website. All images by me. 


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