The Prairie Spirit Trail: An Economic Impact Study of Phase 1
Cindy R. Pauls, Kansas State University, 1997.

This thesis examines the impact of the first phase of Prairie Spirit Trail development. The first two chapters and the appendices provide an understanding of the rail-trail concept and process. The subsequent chapters examines the positive economic impact that provides support for the development of future rail-trails.

Unfortunately, since this study was conducted very early in the Prairie Spirit Trail’s history, it could not come to any concrete conclusions. Nevertheless, the author, who was initially skeptical of the concept of rail-trails, ended up concluding:

After reading countless documents, books and articles, it is now my opinion that rail-trails can have a very positive impact on rural communities. Many rural communities are struggling to survive and a well developed, strategically placed rail-trail can provide the impetus for growth. A well kept, positively promoted linear trail passing through a community where a possibly overgrown, under used railway used to be, can provide a positive amenity for a community to build upon. By embracing the positive aspects of the trail, the Garnett business community has encouraged growth and improved the potential vitality of their economy.