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American Trails presented "Creative Reassembling of Former Railroad Corridor" on February 23, 2017 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"


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"Creative Reassembling of Former Railroad Corridors"

map showing railroad lines


American Trails presented this Webinar on February 23, 2017 with Craig Della Penna, owner of Northeast Greenway Solutions, Realtor (specializing in the sale of houses near rail trails and greenways), and owner of Sugar Maple Trailside Inn in Massachusetts. Has the idea of a trail built upon a former railroad or former trolley corridor been proposed in your town but never got built because of a gap? Or perhaps the gap prevents a longer, more useful trail?

Read more and learn about the presenter...


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A. Southern New England and Eastern New York have the nation’s densest network of former steam railroad corridor and former electric trolley corridor. Nowhere else in the U.S. has this kind of inventory so to speak.

We’ll start with a primer on former on steam railroad corridor vs trolley corridor and the primary differences and difficulties in piecing together one versus the other.

• How did the corridors get segmented or chopped-up in the first place? And how much is segmented?

• Is there is a program to preserve former railroad or trolley corridor?


B: How to reassemble former corridors

• LOCAL TRAIL ADVOCACY GROUPS— AKA FRIENDS GROUPS are one option to piece together sections or reassemble corridor.

• Another option is to create a LAND ACQUISITION VEHICLE. And once you have a success or two, teach other groups how to duplicate it.

• Use the MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE commonly available to Real Estate professionals to reassemble pieces of corridor.

C: In order to do this, in many cases, you’ll need to enlist non-traditional allies.

graphic showing $253 million in annual economic impact of the trail

Many former rail corridors are owned by utility companies

• LAND TRUSTS - The land trust movement in the U.S. started in Massachusetts and though they’ve been focused on, historic properties, farms, view sheds, forests and other notable geographical features, there are now plenty of examples of land trusts helping to reassemble linear corridors. In many places, these corridors provide a connection between the land trusts more traditional holdings.

• UTLITIES - Private sector utilities may provide a connection too. In fact, in Massachusetts the utilities own more miles of former railroad corridor than the railroads do. The world has indeed turned upside down.

• TRANSIT AGENCIES - Transit agencies have a role here too. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority— the MBTA or “T” is actually the 2nd largest landowner in the state. Most of what they own is former railroad corridor.

• REALTORS - Build allies in the world of real estate professionals.

• ROTARY CLUBS and other civic organizations are where the local conversations start.

• I will teach you how to get to the table with these non-traditional allies, and how to get them on board with your project by showing successful strategies others have employed.



Craig Della Penna

For over fifteen years, Craig Della Penna marketed rail freight and planned the start-up and managed the operations of two of the northeast’s largest railroad owned transloading facilities. Having a background in a railroad history, he was invited by a regional publisher to write a series of books about the history of old railroad lines and their conversion to bike and hike trails. He was later hired by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as an organizer and for seven years covered the New England region. For the past thirteen years, he has been a Realtor in Massachusetts, specializing in the sale of houses near rail trails and greenways. He is the first Realtor in the U.S. with this niche and has been written about in numerous national and regional Realtor trade magazines— and even in United Airlines in-flight magazine— Hemispheres. He is one of the most in-demand speakers in the U.S. on various topics related to rail trail development with over 1,200 lectures in 20 States and Canadian provinces. He and his wife Kathleen also operate an award-winning bed & breakfast in Northampton, Massachusetts that sits eight feet from one of New England’s earliest municipally-built rail trails. Learn more about Craig’s accomplishments (pdf 874 kb)…





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