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Monticello is a small, central Illinois town steeped in a railroad history it still celebrates. Its Chamber of Commerce has offices and special activities in the historic downtown Train Depot. And it has a large and very active Railway Museum that restores old railroad equipment and takes scheduled tour rides with restored cars and locomotives into the Depot from its yards and shops just north of town.
Monticello was once a hub of the electric Interurban Railway of the Illinois Traction System that linked dozens of small towns and cities across central Illinois. Its miles and miles of abandoned track and right-of-way are now being used to develop multi-use recreational trails like this one built and maintained by the City of Monticello.
The East Prairie Bicycle & Walking Path is also a rail-with-trail. On its immediate west side is the railway still used between the Railway Museum and the downtown Depot. It has open prairie farmland to the east and a narrow, mostly wooded ribbon of land separating it from the other tracks on the west. Towards its north end, there's a small, attractive rest area with a gazebo and picnic table. Also at the northern end is a restored concrete platform, sign and tribute to the old Dighton train stop there.
In the future, the trail is planned to connect to the scenic Sangamon River Trail on the west side of the city.
Just west of the north end of the trail, there is parking at nearby Valentine Park (off Township Road).
A great 1-mile paved trail that is easy to get to! Start at Valentine Park on the north, or park on Grant Street and get your walk on!
The trail offers a prairie setting, as well as some forest wildlife on the north end. If you walk on weekends from May through October, there is a very good chance you will walk alongside one of the Monticello Railray Museum's running vintage diesel trains and steam engines! (Trail is separate from tracks).
Monticello is really a great town for train enthusiasts. Besides all the content of the Description section of this and the other Monticello trail, the story of Dighton Station is particularly interesting. There is more to read about it at this address: http://www.journal-republican.com/news/parks-and-recreation/2012-08-15/historical-bent-eagle-scout-project.html It would be fantastic if one day this trail were to connect all the way out to Train Museum Depot.
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