Imagine a World..
In which you could enjoy a rail trail without having to fight your way through Metro-Atlanta first. Soon, you'll be able to! There's a rails-to trails project underway right here in your own backyard.
The trail will connect Athens-Clarke, Greene and Oglethorpe counties with 39 miles of multi-purpose walkways suitable for walking, jogging and biking alike, and The Firefly Trail, Inc. is dedicated to making that vision a reality.
In 1841, the Athens branch of the Georgia Railroad began operation, providing freight and passenger transportation from farms and towns to markets.
Interesting fact: The corridor is so level, there were only three trestles on the entire 39 mile route. The only one that remains is the Trail Creek trestle in Athens, made famous by the REM album “Murmur.”1841
Railroad Ceases to Operate
The route was abandoned. Some property reverted to adjacent landowners, some may have been retained by CSX Transportation, and some may have been sold to other parties.1984
Local governments begin the process of purchasing and aquiring land from the CSX railroad company. The vision for the Firefly Trail is born.2002
Athens-Clarke County voters agree on a SPLOST referendum; sales tax collections combined with a Federal Transit Administration grant fund the first leg of the Firefly Trail.2004
SPLOST Referendum II
Voter approval designated $7 million to build the trail. The second influx of SPLOST money is paired with a Federal Highway Administration grant administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation.2011
Plans for Trail
Athens-Clarke County prepares to begin construction on the first trail segment. This will provide a link from downtown Athens to Dudley Park and beyond.2014
Athens-Clarke County begins construction on the first .8 mile segment of the trail (East Broad Street almost to the Athens Loop). When complete, this segment will be 14 feet wide and will include two bridges.2014
Community representatives and the NE Georgia Regional Commission have created a 501©3 non-profit organization, mapped most of the corridor, have begun property searches to identify property owners, and started raising awareness and funds.2015
Why We Care
"Firefly" was the nickname of the locomotive that ran the line from 1891 until 1984, because of the sparks that flew from its wood-burning engine. We are certain that the Firefly Trail will live up to its name by providing positive sparks of wellness and growth to local communities.