I spent today on the Union Pacific Rail Trail (UPRT) between Echo and Park City, Utah. The UPRT is a 26 mile long, mostly unpaved rail trail that parallels Interstate 80 in northeast Utah as it rises from the sagebrush flats into the heart of the Wasatch Range. It’s really pretty even though it runs next to an interstate highway. Whose idea was it to put it there, anyway?
Actually, it was nobody’s idea. The trail used to be a railroad line. According to UtahRails.com, the Union Pacific built the line in 1880 to serve the silver mining industry in Park City. The interstate came much later but because the railroad people had already found the best route over the mountains, the road builders simply followed it. Then the mines failed and the railroad pulled out. Now it’s a linear state park…a bicycle trail…next to a freeway. Things change.
As I rode, I found myself thinking about the men (mostly) and women who put that railroad line in way back in 1880. I wonder what they would have said if somebody had suggested that someday it wouldn’t be needed and that it would be repurposed as a bicycle trail. I imagine that after the laughter stopped, they’d have told that person that he or she was crazy…that the railroad would always be there.
I imagine that’s what people would say to me, too, if I was to suggest that someday the interstate highway next to that bike path will be gone just like the railroad. I’m going to say it anyway. If the railroad is no longer needed, it’s not so difficult to imagine that someday the interstate won’t be needed, either. In fact, I’d bet on it.
We humans have a tendency to think that things have always been as they are now. That’s simply not the case. We struggle to see such change when we try to look forward, but when we look back it’s crystal clear. Everything is temporary.
And so I am optimistic that as more and more people choose to cycle that things will continue to change for the better. We will reorder our lives and live closer to our destinations. We will shop locally and only buy what we can carry home on our bikes. We will consciously choose to live at a pace more consistent with who we are and in that we will finally find joy.