American Tobacco Trail

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American Tobacco Trail
2008-07-23 American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham.jpg
American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham
Length20 mi (32 km)
LocationNorth Carolina
Trailheadsacross Morehead Avenue from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to Ragan Rd., Wake County
UseMulti-use
Hiking details
Trail difficultyEasy
SeasonYear-round
 
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American Tobacco Trail
2008-07-23 American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham.jpg
American Tobacco Trail terminus in Durham
Length20 mi (32 km)
LocationNorth Carolina
Trailheadsacross Morehead Avenue from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to Ragan Rd., Wake County
UseMulti-use
Hiking details
Trail difficultyEasy
SeasonYear-round

Coordinates: 35°59′25.71″N 78°54′22.75″W / 35.9904750°N 78.9063194°W / 35.9904750; -78.9063194 (American Tobacco Trail)

The American Tobacco Trail (ATT) is a 20-mile (32 km) long Rails-to-Trails project located in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, running along an abandoned railroad bed originally built for the American Tobacco Company in the 1970s. The route crosses through the City of Durham, Durham County, Chatham County, and Wake County. The ATT is part of the East Coast Greenway and is open to pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians (in non-urban sections) and other non-motorized users.

Route[edit]

The American Tobacco Trail is split into three main sections, from North to South:

City of Durham[edit]

The ATT begins in the City of Durham across Morehead Avenue from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Trail users may park in a gravel parking area underneath the Durham Freeway (NC 147), except on game days. The trail is a 10-foot (3.0 m) wide asphalt paved greenway with loose gravel shoulders. It is open to walkers, cyclists, rollerbladers and wheelchair users, but not equestrians.

The American Tobacco Trail covers 6.75 miles (10.86 km) through the City of Durham to its current end at NC Hwy. 54 just north of I-40. This segment of the ATT is a designated portion of the East Coast Greenway. Work began in late 2012 to construct a pedestrian bridge across I-40 between exit 274 and 276, connecting two major portions of the ATT. The project was scheduled to be completed in late July, 2013.[1]

Durham County[edit]

Section of the Trail near Scott King Road in Durham County

South of I-40 there is a 2.7-mile (4.3 km)[2] natural or existing surface segment that is currently open. This portion, which extends from Massey Chapel Road past the Chancellor's Ridge subdivision, crosses under Fayetteville Road, crosses Scott King Road and traverses Crooked Creek, is currently under reconstruction by the Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (TRTC) under a grant from the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission. The trail may be most accessed at 7682 Fayetteville Road, Durham, NC 27713, as there is off-road parking.[3] A short spur of the trail continues north from Massey Chapel Road and currently ends in a swamp.

Chatham County[edit]

Typical section of the ATT in Chatham County.

The ATT trail traverses 4.5-mile (7.2 km)[4] in Chatham County. Once the trail crosses into Chatham county, the trail converts to a dual surface of asphalt and compacted screenings. The trail is open for foot, bike and equestrian use by TRTC. The trail crosses Northeast Creek and O'Kelly Chapel Road, past the Old Chatham Golf Course. It also traverses the end of Pittard Sears Road, Panther Creek, and continues past New Hope Church Road. Most street crossings allow on-road parking.

The ATT crosses Panther Creek in Chatham County.

Wake County[edit]

The ATT traverses 6.4 miles (10.3 km)[5] in Wake County, followed by a usable but unimproved 1.9-mile (3.1 km) portion. The improved greenway is approximately 10-foot (3.0 m) wide with a granite screening surface. The trail is open to hikers, cyclists, wheelchair users and equestrians. Users can access this portion of the greenway most conveniently at 1305 White Oak Church Road, Apex, NC 27523[6] or along Wimberly Rd. The towns of Apex and Cary have plans to connect their municipal greenway systems to the ATT in the future. The trail terminates at a trailhead off of Ragan Rd.

In total, 13.7 miles (22.0 km) of continuous trail is usable in the southernmost portion and 6.75 miles (10.86 km) of continuous paved trail is usable in the northernmost portion. A traverse of approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) on public roads is required to get between these two continuous sections.

The ATT crosses under US 64 via tunnel.

History[edit]

J.B. Duke founded the American Tobacco Company in 1890, which subsequently acquired the Lucky Strike Company and over 200 other firms. The company built processing plants and warehouses in Durham which were served by several rail lines built in 1905. The rail line to the south which is now the ATT, connected from Durham to Bonsal, NC and onwards to Duncan. It was known as the New Hope Valley Railway and later Durham & South Carolina (it never got as far as SC), and later became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system.[7] In the 1970s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Jordan Lake reservoir in Chatham County necessitating the relocation of a large portion of the tracks. A portion of the original right-of-way is presently a natural surface trail accessible off of Stagecoach Rd. in Durham.[8] A new rail line was built on higher ground a few miles to the east. However, only about 10 years later, the tracks were removed from this new railroad as Norfolk Southern had been bought out, and trains could access the American Tobacco complex via the Southern Railway more economically.[9] In the 1980s the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy (TRTC) was formed to preserve the corridor as a multi-use trail and developed a Master Plan for the ATT in 1992. Since then, work has progressed at a moderate pace to develop the trail for pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian use.

In 2012 construction began to upgrade portions of the trail in southern Durham County to Chatham County. The upgrades include a pedestrian bridge over Interstate Highway 40 (I40) as well as paving the natural trail. Additionally, some sections of the improved trail will be widened to accommodate equestrian traffic. Also the ATT has been plagued with crime. 14 reports of robberies and assaults in 2012.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]