The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs recently announced the designation or redesignation of 19 areas as Iowa Great Places, including the Raccoon River Valley Trail in Dallas, Guthrie and Greene counties.
Iowa Great Places are designated to support new and existing infrastructure that cultivates unique and authentic qualities of neighborhoods, communities and regions in Iowa. The state now recognizes 40 Iowa Great Places communities and eight Cultural and Entertainment Districts statewide.
Seventeen Iowa Great Places were redesignated during the 2019 cycle, including the RRVT, and Lake View and the Clive Greenbelt are new additions this year.
The “In the Shadow of the Rails” art installations — currently located in Waukee, Perry, Dallas Center, Minburn, Cooper and Jefferson and with plans for an Adel artwork — connect these communities in a unique way. The art installations play on the region’s railroad history and the repurposing of the rail line as a public trail system that continues to serve and connect the same original rail communities.
The trail-wide themed artworks are based on a concept by RDG of Des Moines and led by artist David Dahlquist, with the aim of establishing a culturally relevant and unifying art theme for the trail corridor that speaks to the uniqueness of the area.
Redesignation of the RRVT as an Iowa Great Place moves forward the development of this nationally recognized recreation trail as a Public Art and Cultural Corridor. This regional designation is built upon partnerships working toward a common vision.
The 89-mile multi-use recreational trail includes collaboration from 14 trail communities, three counties and the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association. It has gained status as one of Iowa’s highest quality and most popular trail systems.
Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace said he was delighted with the redesignation.
“This recognition goes to show how noteworthy it is to expand the network of trails by linking the Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails between Perry and Woodward,” Wallace said.
As a testament to the reach of the Great Place designation, “In the Shadow of the Rails” was recently featured in the national Rails-to-Trails Magazine, and sections of the RRVT were included in the recently announced Great American Trail route that will link Washington D.C. to Washington State when completed.
Ken Keffer is the outreach coordinator for the Dallas County Conservation Board.