B&O Right-Of-Way/Lincoln Prairie Trail
A Very Brief History
Throughout its sixteen-year history, the Lincoln Prairie Trail has served as a safe gathering place for the residents of Central Illinois and for visitors from other areas of the State, other states, and even other countries as far off as Australia.
The Trail’s rich history starts long before abandoned railway beds began being converted for use as community based facilities promoting safe and healthy activities for citizens.
As the B&O Railway was expanding westward, during the mid-nineteenth century, the State Capitol of Illinois was moved from Vandalia to Springfield (largely as a result of the efforts of Abraham Lincoln). The B&O Line connecting Cincinnati to St. Louis was built, giving the Railway access to the Mississippi River and, further North, The Railroad connected Indianapolis to the new State Capitol. The Company then saw the need to connect the strategic points on a North/South plain. They chose Shawneetown, on the Ohio, as the Southern starting point and built this line Northward, through Flora, where it crossed the East/West line, all the way to Beardstown, on the Illinois River. This line passed through Pana, Taylorville, Springfield, and Ashland on its way.
The original plan for the Lincoln Prairie Trail called for its completion from Springfield to Pana, along the old B&O right-of-way and Illinois Route 29. This plan proved to be a little ambitious, at the time, and a gap between Rochester and Taylorville currently exists.