FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Katie Test, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
WISCONSIN TRAIL RECEIVES NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Names Elroy-Sparta State Trail to Hall of Fame
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has named the Elroy-Sparta State Trail as the seventh inductee to the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The Wisconsin trail is featured in Rails to Trails magazine and on RTC's Web site, complete with photos and a detailed ride-along description of its scenic views and important community connections.
"The Elroy Sparta State Trail is really a crown jewel in our extensive system of rail-trails here in Wisconsin," says Brigit Brown, state trails coordinator for Wisconsin. "It is the trail that started it all and made us a national leader in rail-trails."
The 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail is one of the first rail-to-trail conversions in the nation. A major asset to the Wisconsin State Trails System, the pathway follows an out-of-service Chicago & North Western Railway bed and passes through three rock tunnels, each handcrafted by rail workers in the early 1900s.
"One of the things that is especially great is that this rail-grade trail runs through a hilly area," says Jim Moorhead, a park ranger with the Wisconsin State Parks and Trails System. "What that means is there are great tunnels and nice views across the countryside."
The Elroy-Sparta State Trail is a multi-use path shared by bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and snowmobiles. In its beginnings, the Elroy-Sparta served as a way to save a rural rail corridor and reshape its economic value as a tourist attraction. Today, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recognizes the significance of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail as one of the earliest success stories of the rail-trail movement.
"The trail is a tourist attraction for the communities through which it runs," says Moorhead. "Half [of the trail] use comes from out of state, so there's economic input into those communities and just a source of pride. The Hall of Fame award reinforces that the Elroy-Sparta State Trail is a unique place, [and we] will have more people come and visit, which is what we're here for."
RTC's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame was established in 2007 to honor outstanding rail-trails. There are currently 1,500 open rail-trails, and approximately 750 more in development. Hall of Fame inductees are selected based on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution.
Past trails that have received the designation include the Illinois Prairie Path in Illinois, the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts, the Burke-Gilman Trail in Washington, the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, the Pinellas Trail in Florida, and the Great Allegheny Passage in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
For a complete list of the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame designations and stories, visit RTC's Web site at www.railstotrails.org.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information visit www.railstotrails.org.