Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Logo

Rails-to-Trails is a Washington, DC based non-profit that is aiming “to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines."

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Our country was built on railroads. Rail travel changed the way that nearly every entity did business in the 19th and early 20th centuries, much like the Internet has done during our lifetimes. The similarities don’t end there. The railroad system was subject to multiple boom and bust cycles, and that led to far more rail being laid than could ever be used. Chances are that you have abandoned rails somewhere near you. Rails-to-Trails is an organization that wants to put them to use. They’re a Washington, DC based non-profit that is aiming “to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.” Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been around for more than 25 years now, and in that time they’ve helped the number of rail-trails grow by more than 700%.

Follow the Trail

I really like how Rails-to-Trails Conservancy intentionally constrains their scope. By focusing mostly on turning rails into trails, they’re actually able to achieve more than if they were just focused on creating more trails (here’s a job search lesson here on how constraints improve creativity). You can learn more about what Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has already achieved here, but if you really want to dig in and find a trail near you, you should check out TrailLink (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s trail search site). If you’re loving what Rails-to-Trails Conservancy does, take a look at their Jobs page. Right now they’re looking for a Development Coordinator, and it looks like it could be a great opportunity for a new or recent grad. They also offer a ton of internships.

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Have you ever used a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy trail?

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