Last week, the restored depot in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, played host to a crowd of area residents, local elected officials and trail enthusiasts—all of whom had assembled to celebrate an exciting event: the induction of the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail and Heritage Rail Trail County Park into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame!
Along with the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, Minnesota (whose designation was announced earlier this year along with the Torrey C. Brown and Heritage rail-trails), the two trails—which share the same corridor and meet at the Mason-Dixon Line, less than a mile from the depot in New Freedom—joined the ranks of 26 other rail-trails (now 29) who have received a coveted Hall of Fame designation in the United States.
Selection into the Hall of Fame is based on a variety of merits, including scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution. The Torrey C. Brown and Heritage rail-trails were chosen specifically for being iconic trails that pay homage to their significant Civil War history while also serving as valuable transportation and recreation corridors for their communities.
Ceremony attendees included RTC President Keith Laughlin as well as local representatives from both Maryland and Pennsylvania, who were proud to see the 44-mile corridor recognized for its excellence.
After the congratulations were doled out, participants jumped on Steam Into History, an historic excursion train that runs (adjacent to an active rail line) from New Freedom to Hanover Junction. During the ride, the rich history of the corridor was regaled by actors in Civil War-era dress! A quick stop in Hanover Junction was just enough time to stroll through the museum and learn about the role the corridor played in the age of Lincoln—serving as part of the route traveled by Lincoln before delivering his November 1863 Gettysburg address, as well as a section of his funeral train procession just a year and a half later after his April 1865 assassination.
These two rail-trails embody what great rail-trails are all about—as active-transportation corridors that help to preserve history while creating a larger trail network that benefits an entire region—and their designation in RTC’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame is well deserved! Congratulations!
For more information about the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, visit RTC's Web page.