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Breakheart Pass, the 1975 Charles Bronson movie based on an Alistair McClean novel set in the Colorado rockies, starred the Camas Prarie Railroad in the part of the high trestled railroad track through the rockies.

Highway 95

Mike Warnock
Charlie Wood

Rails to Trails Conservancy is an organization working all across the nation to preserve railroad lines for use as pedestrian bicycle paths.

Should This stretch of the Camas Prairie Railroad become available we need to be ready to support local, state, and regional efforts to preserve access. 

One of Many Trestles

Northern Idaho has its Hiawatha Trail, now Bill Mannschreck implores the TRC to become an advocate for railbanking the remaining working stretch of rail from Reubens to CuldeSac. Let's call it the Breakheart Trail until we have something official.

What Can I do?

Okay, its not going to be cheap. It's not going to be easy. Leo Hennesy of the State Dept. of Parks and Rec says putting railings on the trestles alone could run a million bucks. On top of that, the land, should it revert to original owners, would mostly go to the Nez Perce Tribe. They will have to be involved in any decisions. In addition, funding sources can be very specific. Will motorized vehicles be allowed access? Doing so gives us access to one large pool of grant money but denies access to another for long term maintenance. Clearly we need to have a local organization; local governements, and the Tribe involved. And, of course, the railroad is not yet available.

July 19, 2008 Trail Hike Report

  • Bill Mannschreck, Mike Warnock, and Charlie Woods lead a hike on Saturday, July 19, 2008. Bill invited Joe Stegner, Idaho State Senator, to join the group. Carol Ellis, Jan Abernathy, Cheryl ?, Nicki Riddle, and Ken McKim joined them. Joe Stegner is a cyclist himself and, having grown up in Grangeville, he remembers riding this Camas Prairie Rail Line in a railroad car.

  • Leo Hennessey of the Idaho State Parks and Rec department is encouraged by our event. Hennessey says our goal should be having this corridor set aside a Rail Bank. Many of the original contracts with the railroads stipulated the property would return to the original owners should it no longer be used for railroading.
  • The Rail Banking program was set up specifically to preserver these corridors for future use for railroading. In a time when we are looking for more mass transit, perhaps some of these railbank holdings will actually be returned to railroading use. However, in the meantime, the corridors can be developed as p;ublic acces trails without endangering their availability for future railroad use and thus reverting them to private ownership.
  • Joe Stegner is doubtful we could get the Idaho legislature to pay the cost of developing and maintain the corridor but Hennesy says we could put it under Winchester State Park and ask legislature for maintenance costs.
    .Since much of the corridor passes through tribal lands, the Nez Perce Tribe's support of the project will be important.
  • To make all this possible of course, the property must become available. Mannschrek is contancting Carl Nelson of Kamiah, local manager for owner in Kansas City. Railbanking is the goal to preserve this valuable corridor.

  • Bill Mannschreck, Mike Warnock, and Charlie Woods reconnoitered the railroad route in April and report that it is about 5.5 miles and took them a leisurely 3 hours and 20 minutes of level or downhill walking.
    • Call Bill at 208 743-4226.
  • I talked with Karl Nelson and he assures me that the line will not be abandoned in 2008. He is still sympathetic with our cause and would like to see it become a bike path if ever abandoned. We must remain alert because under one of the methods of closure we have only about a month to react if thay filed for abandonment. It is well outlined in the Rails-to-trails book that I gave Carol. Bill
  • Write your Idaho legislators.
  • Join Rails to Trails Conservancy to support efforts for trail building around the nation.
  • Join Twin Rivers Cyclists if you are not already a member to support this and other cycling advocacy efforts.
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