First, our Mission Statement: The Jefferson County Trails Council's mission is to: build, construct, and maintain a network of trails for public use and enjoyment, and to promote, inform, and educate the general public about the trail system.
Also, see an article by Ron Blair in the June 2014 issue of The Iowa Source magazine about the history of the Fairfield Loop Trail.
And see a story of how the Pedestal Signs (PDF) came to life with a lot of help (story written by Ron Blair).
History of the Jefferson County Trails Council
Scroll down this page to see a Timeline Map.
In August 1997 the Jefferson County Trails Council came into being with the assistance and encouragement of the Jefferson County Conservation Board.
The first task was to extend the Jefferson County Park Trail southwest along the old Rock Island roadbed, with hopes of reaching Libertyville four miles away.
The mile of roadbed from the park to Cedar Creek was acquired, cleared and rocked, a shelter was built, and with a TEA-21 grant, a 376' bridge over the creek was built using the abutments from the old railroad bridge (the railroad bridge had been removed in the 1980's). A name was chosen -- Cedar View Trail (CVT).
Since it would be 2002 before the CVT bridge would be completed, the JCTC turned their attention to creating new trails. They developed a concept for a Loop Trail that encircled the city, joining the CVT, along with a Bikeway/Walkway system of inner city spokes connecting to schools, parks and other points of interest. It was named the Fairfield Loop Trail.
Easements were acquired for the undestroyed sections of the Rock Island in the northern part of the city. Then, to connect to Walton Lake toward the east, easements were granted along cornfields, pastures, and around city reservoirs.
A new bridge was needed over the reservoir #2 spillway -- the Iowa National Guard volunteered to build it for training purposes. Also, a REAP grant was obtained with the cooperation of the City of Fairfield for construction of almost 4 miles of a crushed limestone trail along these easements, which was completed in 2000.
Between late 2000 and summer 2002 a new 342-ft bridge/boardwalk was built by volunteers along Lamson Woods State Preserve, connecting a wetlands area trail to Mint Blvd. This became part of the Loop Trail, connecting via Mint Blvd to the southern section.
In January 2002 a rustic walking trail was created through the woods at reservoir # 2, supplementing a 1.25-mile trail around reservoir # 1.
In 2004 a critical component of the Loop Trail came into being with construction of the 246- foot pedestrian BNSF Bridge over the BNSF Railroad just east of Chautauqua Park. This bridge is more than just a concrete structure, however. The JCTC received a grant from the National Endowments of the Arts for "artistic" enhancements to the bridge.
To connect this new bridge to the Neff Wetlands/Lamson Woods, an easement was obtained through the Fry property. To make it work 3 bridges needed to be built over the creeks. Designed by Bill Matkin and completed in 2007, they are a combination of galvanized steel and wood.
With the announcement that the Iowa DOT would build a new bypass in 2004 around the southern edge of Fairfield, the JCTC lobbied to have them build a trail alongside the new highway, and they agreed. It was finished in 2009.
The Bill Matkin Memorial Bridge was built in 2009 to allow safe passage for trail users over busy Highway 1. The Matkin Memorial Plaza honors not only the designer, but also the histories of bridge design, Iowa and the Fairfield Loop Trail.
By the end of 2011, all 16 miles of the Loop Trail will be complete, allowing one to completely circle Fairfield. With its variety of terrain and topographies, with prairies, woodlands, lakes, wetlands, and connections to many city and county parks, it is an experience unlike most trails.
In fact, we think of the Loop Trail as a long, narrow linear park, with a variety of adventures along the way.
For history buffs, in 2004 the Fairfield Heritage Tour was developed to present the rich tapestry of Fairfield's past. Bike or drive the 8 miles to see 50 historic and architecturally interesting buildings, or view it on-line, where you will also find the history of the Louden Machinery Company.
It is surprising what a volunteer group can do when it has the cooperation and assistance of diverse organizations and individuals.
Look at our News Page for the latest information.
Produced by the Jefferson County Trails Council. © Copyright 2001-2016.