A one-mile stretch of an abandoned railroad cutting through Wenham swampland could be ready for use as a biking and walking trail by next spring.
As part of a larger network, the Wenham trail will with rail trails in Danvers and Topsfield, and perhaps continue into Peabody, Lynnfield and Wakefield.
Iron Horse Preservation has been working to pull up the old rails and ties. The Nevada non-profit sells the iron rails and wooden ties to pay for the construction work. There is essentially no cost to the town.
Joe Hattrup, chief operating officer of Iron Horse, said he hopes to have the Wenham trail excavated and graded before the ground freezes this winter. The final step, laying down crushed gravel for a compact surface, should be completed in spring-time, he said.
On Friday morning, Hattrup was overseeing his team as an excavator dug up boulders from the bottom of the swamp that had washed out part of the rail bed.
To reconnect the trail, Iron Horse is laying down two culverts that will be filled over to span a 40-foot gap.
The trail cuts through a section of swampland off of Topsfield Road (Route 97) that Hattrup said is a prime spot for bird-watching or spotting beavers.
"It's the best use and it's a good deal for the town," Hattrup said. "The kids can come out here and really learn something."