PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Most of the railroad track is long gone on the 98 miles of right of way the State of South Dakota owns from Kadoka to Rapid City. But the state Railroad Board now has two organizations competing to buy much or all of it.
One calling itself Ranchers Railway LLC, wants to pay $405,000 for 85 miles, between Kadoka and Caputa, and turn the land back to the 51 private owners along it.
The ranchers’ offer includes this objective: “Prevent third party organizations from acquiring the rail line for extracurricular activities, including a ‘rails to trails’ project.”
But a public trail, similar to the George S. Mickelson Trail that the state Game, Fish and Parks Department runs through the Black Hills, is exactly what Rapid City officials hope the property becomes.
Rapid City’s municipal government has offered to pay about $6,600 annually — the amount the state board currently gets from leases along the route, other than the city’s — to buy 98 miles, from Kadoka to Rapid City’s east side.
The city wants to seek public and private partnerships for further development at a handful of spots for water and parking. Unneeded ground would be offered for sale to neighboring landowners after the recreational trail was complete. The city proposes a 20-year period for getting it done.
The state board is considering more than one dozen offers from leaseholders who operate along state-owned lines throughout South Dakota.
The board decided last week to enter negotiations with one company, L.G. Everist, on purchasing one of the state-owned lines.
The board turned down two offers to buy the eastern half of the MRC line from Mitchell to Kadoka, as well as other offers to buy lines serving Napa-Platte, Britton and Milbank.