CSX Donates 130 Acres to Complete National September 11th Memorial Trail

Posted 12/09/15 by Kelly Pack in Building Trails, America's Trails

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, part of the September 11th National Memorial Trail corridor | Photo courtesy PA DCNR

In the fall, CSX announced their donation of 130 acres to help complete the September 11th National Memorial Trail, a planned 1,300-mile multi-use trail that commemorates those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The vision of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, who manages the trail project, is to join with fellow Americans—“be they the families of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, trail enthusiasts, organizations, corporations, governments or simply citizens who love their country and the outdoors—and work together to make the [memorial trail] a reality.”

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C. | Photo courtesy September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance/PA DCNR

While the exact route for the trail corridor is still being determined, the current corridor plan—shaped as a triangle—comprises a series of trail systems connecting the World Trade Center, Flight 93 and Pentagon memorials.

The trail would start from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and connect with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (which passes through Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia) to Cumberland Maryland (184 miles). The route would then follow a portion of the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (which extends from Cumberland to Pittsburgh) to Garrett, Pennsylvania, and then move northeast to Shanksville, continuing to New York City via new or existing trails—many of them rail-trails. The final leg stretches from New York City to the Pentagon via the in-progress East Coast Greenway.

CSX is one of the largest Class I railroads in the United States, and more than 1,000 miles of rail-trails currently exist on former CSX corridors. CSX's donation of 130 acres of undeveloped land in southwestern Pennsylvania will be used to build a 7-mile portion of trail between the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Garrett and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

Artists rendering of the in-progress Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pa. | Photo courtesy U.S. Department of State | CC by 2.0

“The September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance is demonstrating tremendous resolve in building a pathway to connect these three historic sites,” said Rep. Bill Shuster, whose congressional district includes the CSX property. “Now, thanks to CSX’s generous contribution, an additional link in the [1,300-mile network] is an important step closer to being completed.”

“Through this significant donation, CSX has distinguished itself as a leader in corporate responsibility and trail development,” said Keith Laughlin, president of RTC. “Its impact on America is immeasurable, permanently commemorating those who lost their lives on September 11, while serving as a valuable health and transportation corridor for millions of people.”

And the impact is already felt tenfold by the people who live in and around the 130-acre donated corridor. Recently, more than 1,300 people signed on to a joint thank you letter sent to CSX Chairman and CEO Michael J. Ward by RTC President Keith Laughlin and David G. Brickley, president of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance.

“My wife is a 9-11 survivor,” wrote Robert Torcivia of Rockaway, New Jersey. “While we can never forget that day, we also know it cannot have the same significance for someone born after the event; like our two daughters. It is absolutely vital that future Americans know what happened ... Your donation will lend huge significance to the massive memorial.”

World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial in New York City | Photo courtesy September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance/PA DCNR

“This trail project will become one of our country’s most precious national treasures on many different levels. Thank you for your generous contribution of such a vital piece to this project,” wrote Malvern, Pennsylvania, residents Sandy and Gail Lipstein, the latter of which is an RTC board member.

The financial challenges faced by communities today underscore the importance of donations like this one, which will not only pay homage to those who lost their lives or loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, but will  contribute to the long-term health and vitality of the region.

As David Wiskochil of Springfield, Virginia, wrote “Your generous donation to the community of this right-of-way acreage is an enormous gift to all of us. Thank you very much for being an example of a corporation with a passion for the common good of our country.”

“A strong, active and varied community is, inevitably, your best asset and, indeed, a worthy investment,” wrote Robert Stocker of Bethlehem, Virginia.

As a voice for the national trail community, RTC extends its gratitude to CSX for this generous gift. To quote Bernard Levin of New York, New York: “BRAVO CSX!”

RTC will continue to lend support for this nationally significant project and will be posting updates in the future—which include news about the planned opening of the CSX-donated trail segment next fall. Stay tuned!

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