Post-Christmas Resolution, Day 231 – Railroads, Trails, And An Old Schwinn Bicycle

(All posts are from my hometown of Perry, Iowa where we are vacationing for the next week). 

Took a long bike ride with my son up to a neighboring small town.

Seasons change. Times change. Needs change.

Completion of First Transcontinental Railroad

In the 1860’s the first transcontinental railroad changed the United States forever. For the betterment of some and the detriment of others, the country was united and the speed to move goods across vast spaces decreased dramatically. As the railroad network grew across the country like frost on a window pane, towns crystalized where the railroad depots were built.

Perry was one of those railroad junctions. Correspondingly, the town grew while other towns withered or stagnated.

abandoned railroad tracks

abandoned tracks

But the railroads that brought life to a little town in Iowa were not destined to survive. Slowly, the railroad companies stopped using lines throughout the region and the tracks were left behind.

Fortunately, those rail lines were not destined to abandonment. Thanks to railroad right-of-ways, the creation of multi-use public trails in the 1980’s became popular. While the tracks were pulled out, those trails were created.

my son biking on the bike bridge (former railroad bridge)

Zachary on a 1944 restored Schwinn bicycle

That led to the recent creation of the Perry-Dawson section of the Raccoon Valley Bike trail. It’s a paved, five mile section of bike trail that my son Zachary and I rode today. It passes fields and rivers, gravel roads and grain elevators. It crosses an old railroad bridge over the Raccoon river.

My son and I took turns alternating bikes, one of which was my father’s 1944 restored Schwinn bicycle that he got as a present at the age of seven. Ironically, my father would have received that Christmas gift right in the heyday of the railroads.

We took turns gliding along over the limestone cemented paths, watching the grasshoppers flee for safety. Grasshoppers are not particularly bright as they seemed to enjoy jumping right into the spokes of the Schwinn.

A lot of people have dedicated a lot of volunteer time to make this trail system come to life. I’d like to thank everyone, everywhere who labored to help make these bike trails available to the public.

Because of their efforts my son and I, along with an old Schwinn bicycle, got to spend several hours together on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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