The View That Drew a Million People
By Jake Lynch
The Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions Award was created to recognize and celebrate those dedicated individuals who have made a remarkable contribution to the advancement of rail-trail projects across America.
Fred Schaeffer is just such a person. When he first learned of the fledgling idea to convert the neglected Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into a public pathway, the plan was little more than a pipe dream. With many doubters and cynics looking on, Fred proceeded to build a community of support, funders and believers for an ambitious project that he knew would one day be a tremendous asset for the region.
He was right. From the moment it opened in 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson has attracted visitors from near and far, and has been the catalyst for a booming health and wellness movement among locals who walk, jog or ride the Walkway from sun up to sundown. In its first year the Walkway attracted an estimated 700,000 visitors.
Although there were many people who played important roles in bringing the Walkway Over the Hudson to fruition, Fred is described by locals as the pivotal, enduring presence, a man whose vision, perseverance and passion for the project were the keys to its realization and ongoing success.
We congratulate Fred on seeing his remarkable vision come to life, and proudly name him Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion for 2013.
Learn more about the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions Award.