Andover Augusta Rail Trail Initiative, Inc. (AARTI) partners with local communities to strengthen and maintain the Redbud Trail. AARTI helped develop and currently maintains the miles of the Redbud Trail from Andover to Hwy 400/54. The Redbud Trail travels along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail corridor. The rail corridor stretches 11 miles in the City of Wichita of which 6 miles are paved concrete. The trail passes city parks, employment hubs, and the Wichita State University campus, and intersects with the K-96 bicycle path. The Redbud Trail continues east to Butler County, where the City of Andover has a 10-foot-wide concrete hike/bike path to 13th Street. From 13th Street to US400/54 the City of Andover partnered with AARTI to developed the Redbud Trail with crushed limestone. AARTI is working closely with local communities to expand the Redbud Trail to the City of Augusta in the future.
The History Behind Redbud Trail
The Redbud Trail follows the historic corridor of the former St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad (later changed to Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail corridor (BNSF)), construction began in 1880. The BNSF contributed greatly to the economy of mid-Kansas by encouraging the development of several towns along its route. The railroad became the lifeline of many communities by importing manufactured goods from around the world and exporting local commodities such as corn, hay, livestock, clothing, etc. Railroads provided quick and convenient transportation and even delivered the mail. The first passenger train went through Andover in 1885 and the last passenger train in October 1960. In 1995 the Santa Fe (Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the BNSF Railway.
Today, trail users can rediscover the railroad heyday as they travel over truss and trestle bridges and past restored depots, making the grade into towns and villages where trains were once anticipated. Yet there is much more to experience beyond the culture of railroads.