Would All the Great Rail-Trails Please Stand Up
Of all of our "Tell Us
" questions so far, none has generated a more enthusiastic response than our request for nominees to our Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Many of you suggested local favorites; others lauded trails far across the country from their home states. We heard passion for pathways that excite you, or rejuvenate communities along their route, or were models and inspirations for later rail-trails, or that are simply loaded with marvelous views.
One thing is for sure: You've given us plenty of suggestions to consider as we continue our selection process for the remaining 21 Hall of Fame honorees, and please keep the nominations coming (to email@example.com) if you believe we're missing a gem.
Enjoy the excerpts we've included below:
"The Blackwater Trail in Florida. Why? Have you ever ridden it? Enough said!"
"I would like to nominate the Virginia Creeper Trail to your Hall of Fame. It's my favorite trail to-date, and I believe that it meets or exceeds all of your selection criteria."
"Scenic value—the photos speak for themselves."
"I nominate the Monon Trail in central Indiana.
Beyond its intrinsic merits (beauty, history, popularity, etc.), the Monon's success catalyzed rail-trail development in the whole state of Indiana."
"It was a huge success right in the center of the state capitol and right under the nose of the Governor and the state legislature. The usual die-hard trail opponents, including the Farm Bureau, staked out their dire and extreme positions, then had to watch their forecasts fail completely...all while being covered in the largest media market in the state."
Gregory Jay Valent
"The Illinois Prairie Path. You probably have more info about it in your files than I could ever come up with, BUT, it deserves the honor as it's (arguably) the FIRST RAIL TRAIL in the world!"
"The 32-mile Elroy-Sparta Trail in southwestern Wisconsin is the granddaddy of rail-trails and should have been the first to make the Hall of Fame. The Elroy-Sparta was the first trail of its kind designated a National Recreational Trail by the United States Department of Interior."
"My personal favorite memory is going on the trail with my then-six-year-old nephew. He rode 11 miles, enjoying the walk through the "caves," a.k.a tunnels, immensely, chattering excitedly."
"Of course, it's also a natural history timepiece. The trail cuts through Wisconsin's unglaciated terrain. Five glaciers advanced and retreated in the state, except in this corner of it. The rolling hills and bluffs are a legacy, enjoyed by state residents and visitors alike."
"I nominate the Monterey Recreation Trail for the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The "Rec Trail" has world-class scenery along the Monterey Bay coastline and is very popular with walkers, skaters and bikers. It connects Seaside, Monterey and Pacific Grove along an old Southern Pacific right-of-way along the coast to what was once a coastal sand plant."
"Many tourists come to the Monterey Peninsula to enjoy a walk along the trail where they watch the seals and surfers, tour Cannery Row, have a picnic at Lover's Point Park in Pacific Grove, or stop for lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants."
"The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail in Park City, Utah, clearly should be considered for the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame."
"The trail is quickly becoming a spine in the Park City community with a newly acquired Phoston Spur, which will connect Summit County with the extremely booming Wasatch County and onto public trails in Heber City, Midway, Vivian Park, Orem and finally back to the ever-expanding Salt Lake City Trail system."
"The popularity of the trail is exploding. We have magnetic counters on four bridges, and we will reach a goal of 50,000 users in 2007, compared to 35,000 users in 2006. The rail-trail is truly our in-town gathering place with thousands of year-round users."
"How about including the Root River Bike Trail in the Hall of Fame? In the nearly 30 years I have been riding the Root River Trail, it has grown considerably. The trail started with about 10 miles of paved trail going from Fountain to Lanesboro, Minn. At the time Lanesboro was slowly dying due the poor economy. Many stores were vacant. Now all buildings are occupied. There are more than a dozen hotels and bed-and-breakfasts."
"The trail now has grown to include five other towns and totals about 75 miles. These towns have also benifited from the trail. More trails are in the planning stages. Eventually there should be around 200 or more trails."
"The Heritage Rail Trail County Park in York, Pa., should be a Hall of Fame trail. The trail is a 10-foot-wide compacted stone surface designed for hiking, bicycling, running and horseback riding, as well as winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. Facilities along the trail include benches, picnic tables, informational bulletin boards with trail maps and restrooms."
Thomas J. Bartol
"I nominate the Little Miami Trail and the contiguous trails in the Dayton-Xenia area. They are a large concentration of well-used trails. I have used them for the past 25 years, since when the original trails were crushed stone. I also hiked these trails by foot before the rails had been removed."
William Honachefsky, Jr.
"The scenic Taylor SteelWorkers Historical Greenway (TSHG) stands as a testament to the men and women of the foundry, including my grandfather and great grandfather, as well as providing excellent active and passive recreational opportunities for the outdoor