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A wide view of the Katy State Trail Park story map online, which will increase information to geologic, historic and cultural features of the park.

Considering a trip to the Katy State Trail Park? Or would you just like to learn more about it? Citizens can now take a virtual tour of the trail using an ArcGIS StoryMap. 

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has announced the launch of a “story map” for Katy Trail State Park to increase access to geologic, historic and cultural features of the park. DNR Geological Survey Program Director Amber Steele said the department received a cooperative agreement from the Arizona State Geological Survey and a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop those features and make them more publicly available.

“We chose this state park (Katy Trail) because of the wealth of cultural and geologic information,” she said. “It’s the longest rail-to-trail in the state and it’s one of the oldest state parks.”

The Katy Trail State Park Story Map tells the “story about the park” with custom maps, according to a DNR press release. Interactive information on the Rock Island Spur and legs of the trail can be also be found like from Boonville to Jefferson City, Clinton to Boonville or Jefferson City to Marthasville. The map shows the user where important destinations along each leg of the trail are located like mines or trailheads. Videos highlight select locations to show the user what they are like, such as the Rocheport Tunnel.  

The map also features basic information about the park’s history and the history of the park’s trestles, which “offer a glimpse into the engineering history of America,” according to the map. The Katy Trail features more than 30 of them. 

“There’s also information on the MKT Railroad that went through the area as well as travelers that used the trail,” Steele said. “A lot of information on how some of the bridges and trestles, the design that went into some of those. That sort of historic information.”

One unique feature of the map is users can access a Missouri state geologic map that moves along with users as they traverse the trail and provides location coordinates. The map describes the geology along the trail and information on important minerals and agriculture. Information on resources like galena, barite, coal, clay and bedrock can be found. The map shows where the resources can be found in the state and in relation to the trail. While the department already offers geologic information on its website, Steele said this map puts it all into one place and makes it “more publicly available.”

The map was developed by a summer intern with Missouri Geological Survey, Breanna Birkett, who is a student at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Birkett, MGS staff, and Arizona Geological Survey worked together.

“We collected field data including photos and geologic descriptions, processed the data, and selected locations to include in the final product,” Birkett said in the release. “We even have a couple of videos that were taken at points along the trail. One I especially like takes the user inside the Rocheport Tunnel, a railroad tunnel under Moniteau Bluff just west of Rocheport. People who aren’t able to walk or ride the trail benefit by having the virtual experience.”

Steele also said the map gave individuals access to the “places not everyone could get into.”

“It helps with geographic and ability access,” Steele said. “People that might not otherwise be able to get to the park can experience it through this immersive experience.”

While there are no plans to create similar story maps for other parks, Steele said the department is open to looking into it if there was interest from the public. She also is hopeful the map may encourage people to come out to the park. 

“We’re hoping that people are able to use it to have an immersive experience in the state park and learn a little bit,” she said. “Maybe that sparks an interest to go out and visit the park.”

While only available online now, the interactive story map will be integrated into Flyover Country, a free mobile map app funded by the National Science Foundation, in early 2020. The app will allow users to locate the information and save the information for use offline. 

The story map can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2SuGP4q. 

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