Constitution Trail is a “linear park” that provides more than 37 miles of trails for biking, hiking, and walking in the greater Bloomington-Normal area. The rails-to-trails movement of the 1980s spurred growing interest in developing a local walking trail on abandoned Illinois Central Gulf Railroad (ICGR) right of way running east of downtown Bloomington and through the heart of Uptown Normal.
In 1986, the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal proposed converting this old rail line into a community trail. Funding came from Bloomington and Normal municipal governments, the 1980s Build Illinois bond program, and additional state and local funds. The trail was officially named “Constitution Trail” on September 17, 1987, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. The initial phase of the trail consisted of an eight-mile north-south stretch from Vernon Avenue to Chestnut Street, with branch to Underwood Park. Constitution Trail’s grand opening was held May 6, 1989.
The Friends of the Constitution Trail assists local governments on trail expansion and beautification projects. The group was founded by Hugh Atwood, known as the “Father of the Constitution Trail.”
Proposed expansion includes linking unconnected segments and expanding existing lines both within and extending beyond the borders of Bloomington-Normal.
The collection includes newspaper articles pertaining to the trail ranging from 1986-1987, 1989-2002, and 2014. Brochures, event fliers, maps, and informational booklets about the trail are also included. Also available are the financial records pertaining to the construction costs of the trail in 1989 and a map plan for trail expansion in 1990. The collection contains information on the Friends of the Constitution Trail, including volunteer information, income/expense reports, registrations reports, and public information on the organization’s activities.