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"Recycling" Old Rail Lines

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Railroads were the backbone of American growth but in recent years shipping by truck has supplanted their use. According to the rails to trails movement, by 1984 from 4000 to 8000 miles of track were being abandoned each year. This left corridors that went through neighbors, down busy city streets, and through miles and miles of agriculture and timberlands unused. In Washington, DC, a group of people interested in history, cycling and walking, railroad aficionados and representatives of environmental groups started a brown bag lunch campaign to design adaptive uses for these many miles of steel tracks. Eventually, the Rails to Trails Conservancy dedicated to I’m quoting here “recycling of a whole transportation system.” The goal was to create safe places for walking, cycling, running and skating that would unite different parts of communities and areas of the country.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.