KLT Rail Trail Committee Profiles: The Great Allegheny Passage – Where Trail Development is Economic Development

As the Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee works toward the creation of a network of rail trail connections within the City, examples of the benefits of urban trails abound.

The Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee profiles successful urban trails that provide inspiration for Kingston.

A peaceful oasis, encounters with nature, a scenic stroll through the woods – these aren’t always the images that come to mind when you think of life in the City of Kingston. But why not? As the Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee explores ways of connecting the community through linear parks and multi-use pathways, we’re gaining a new appreciation of all that a “rail trail” can be. We’ve learned that the idea of an urban rail trail isn’t unique. In fact, across the country, more and more cities are realizing the rewards that come from a strong network of trails and pathways. Why not Kingston, too?

From time to time, we’ll be collecting and sharing some examples of successful urban trails as a way of expanding our own horizons, and yours, too. These are the success-stories that our Rail Trail Committee turns to, time after time, as we reflect on our own goals. And they’re a living representation of the vision we have for Kingston that makes us excited for all that our community is and can be, with a little elbow grease and cooperation.

April 2012 Trail Profile

The Great Allegheny Passage- Where trail development is economic development

The Great Allegheny Passage is a combination of two railroads traveling 150 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MA, eventually connecting with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland to create a 334.5-mile traffic and motorized vehicle-free route. The two railroads, the P&LE Railroad and the WM Railway were built between 1875 & 1912 to meet the transportation need of materials during the iron and steel industry. By 1991, both railroads were abandoned due to lack of use. The first purchase of railroad land was made in 1978 by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The original 26 miles of railroad was bought with the intention of developing a recreational trail, and the first 9 mi. of trail opened in 1986, running from Ohioply to Ramcat. At a Trail Summit in 1995, surrounding organizations joined together for the sole purpose of bringing their vision of a continuous rail-trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland to fruition. To do this, they formed the Allegheny Trail Alliance. The trail’s extensive length, varied landscape from urban to mountains and lakes, bridges and campgrounds, attracts up to half a million annual visitors. Because of the large number of enthusiasts using the trail, adjoining villages have realized an obvious increase in sales and revenue, especially in outdoor related stores, restaurants, and hotels.

For more information about the Great Allegheny Passage, visit the GAP’s web site or check it out on Facebook.

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