photos and text provided by Joe Connolly
Shelby County Trails was formed in 2012 and has a governing committee with members representing 10 communities in Shelby County, Iowa. Their mission is to promote building of trails to connect communities in Shelby County.
Their first major project is the Ballpark to Ballpark Trail which will run north/south between Panama and Portsmouth, Iowa. The name Ballpark to Ballpark Trail comes from the great baseball traditions of these communities. These rural communities have sponsored baseball teams for many, many years. Teams for young elementary students all the way to semi-pro town teams.
This trail is truly a “grass-roots” efforts. Nearly all funding has come from the local community. Phase I has been completed with no government funding. There have been a handful of small grants from private foundations; the remainder of funding has come from local efforts accomplished through various fundraisers including charity auctions, community breakfasts and direct contributions from community members. A local trucking company, Panama Transfer, has matched many contributions dollar for dollar.
The trail will start at the north end of Panama in Whispering Pines Park – just across State Highway 191 from the Panama ballpark. The eventual south end will be just past the Portsmouth Iowa ballpark about 7 miles away.
Phase I was completed this Fall. It includes a ½ mile of on street bike route through the town of Panama. Plus a section of off street trail extending a ½ mile to the south ending at County Road F32. This off street section running adjacent to State Highway 191.
Future construction will extend the off street trail another 6 miles to Portsmouth. This section will also run adjacent to State Highway 191. The ultimate goal is to extend the trail to Pottawattamie County where it will connect to trails in Council Bluffs and Omaha plus the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.
Here is a view of the off street trail looking south of Panama:
The off-street portion is paved with concrete and 10 feet wide. Here is a view looking south toward County Road F32. The road to the left is State Highway 191:
Here is a view north to the Panama City Limit:
State Highway 191 is known as Railway Avenue in Panama. The trail runs parallel to Railway Avenue at the south end of town. There is excellent on-trail and on-route signage.
Just before downtown Panama the trail moves to an on street bike route with directional signs to guide users through town.
The on street route takes users up Panama’s Historic Main Street. Panama has a population of 235 and a downtown which includes a bank, the Post Office, a Bar & Grill, a sit-down restaurant and a grocery store. Here is a view up Panama’s Main Street. The bike route runs through this business district:
The on-street route turns from Main Street onto Second Avenue. There is great signage on the on-street portion:
Once on Second Avenue the route passes the 100+ year old St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church:
Here is the north end of the trail where it enters Whispering Pines Park:
For additional information contact Dean Kloewer (712) 261-1408.
You can also follow Shelby County Trails on Facebook.