UP Exec, Local Group to Meet About Harahan Wagonway

By Bill Dries

Union Pacific Railroad CEO James Young meets at the company’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb., Friday with a group from Memphis and West Memphis to talk about biking and hiking.

The local group wants access to an old “wagonway” on the north side of the Harahan Rail Bridge across the Mississippi River for use as a pedestrian and bicycle path.

It would link the burgeoning set of Memphis trails and greenways to West Memphis and beyond.

The trip to Omaha was organized by Charles McVean, a bicycling enthusiast who has mapped out a tentative Downtown-Midtown link to the Shelby Farms Greenline.

McVean, founder of McVean Trading & Investments LLC, used his connections with U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, also the former governor of the state and a former U.S. secretary of agriculture, to arrange the meeting.

McVean is part of the delegation to Omaha along with Memphis City Council member Reid Hedgepeth and Arkansas state representative and former West Memphis mayor Keith Ingram.

The group has two legal documents from 1917 in which the wagonways on the bridge were sold “forever” to the city of Memphis and Crittenden County government by the then-owner of the bridge, the Memphis Railway Bridge and Terminal Co.

The wagonways were once used by horse-drawn wagons, pedestrians and automobiles.

The wood surface has since been removed, leaving only the steel girders and framework.

McVean’s plan is to use the wagonway on the north side of the rail bridge and avoid having to cross any rail lines.

The Memphis side entrance to the wagonway would be at the Martyrs Point park, a Yellow Fever memorial, about 400 yards from the bridge.

Access to the park by bicycle is on the existing trail that runs along the riverfront south of Tom Lee Park.