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Connections Across the American Landscape

Dear Friend of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,

While the weather outside is frightful, this is the perfect time to plan this summer's rail-trail adventure. With more than 1,400 open rail-trails across the country, you're bound to find a perfect destination. One in particular that I know will be a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience is the opening ride of the Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh Trail.

For the past five years, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has brought people and trails together on the popular and successful Greenway Sojourn in the Northeast. This year, the sixth annual ride will be nothing short of spectacular. June 23–30, 2007, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Allegheny Trail Alliance are sponsoring an inspiring 335-mile ride from the heart of our nation's capital to the heart of Pittsburgh. Five hundred riders will trace the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. to the confluence of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. The first 185 miles will traverse the towpath of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal through central Maryland. Envisioned by George Washington in the 18th century as a transportation route to the west, the canal was made obsolete soon after its completion by the advent of the railroad. Fittingly, at the terminus of the canal in Cumberland, Md., we will cross the state line into Pennsylvania and ride Great Allegheny Passage, a just-opened, phenomenal 135-mile rail-trail that's achieving national attention. There is just a nine-mile gap in the Passage before it picks up seven final miles of trail in Pittsburgh.

When Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was founded in 1986, an off -road trail with mileage in the triple digitals was still a vision. But in the last 21 years—as rail-trail mileage has grown from 250 to more than 13,000—it have become possible to imagine trail connections that link distant places across the American landscape. This issue of Rails to Trails explores some of the links. "Crossing State Lines" highlights not only the Passage, but other trails that have made crossing boundaries—be they state, county, city or jurisdictional lines—a priority. In "More Miles For Milwaukee Road," you can see the impact 20 short miles can have on a trail that could one day connect Montana to the Washington coast. And in the past year, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has worked in partnership with Coca-Cola North America to catalyze more of these long-distance connections such as cross-state links in Georgia and Alabama, and Massachusetts and Connecticut. With the continuing support of you, our members, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is full-steam ahead on connecting America with trails and greenways.

Keith Laughlin
Spring 2007

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037