KLT Rail Trail Committee Profiles: The Heritage Rail Trail

 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.

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March 2012 Trail Profile

The Heritage Rail Trail – Connecting Past and Present

Located in York county, PA, the Heritage Rail-Trail is a 21 mile multi-use trail. The largely crushed stone trail runs adjacent to the intact and still operating Northern Central Railroad. The first mile of trail travels through urban conditions before venturing into more rural landscapes between the city of York and the Maryland state line. The Northern Central Railroad grew to become a vital link between Washington D.C., Harrisburg, PA, upstate New York and Lake Ontario during the 19th century. During the battle of Gettysburg, Rebel troops destroyed telegraph lines and bridges along the line to isolate Washington D.C. from the Union. After the bloody battle, President Lincoln traveled this railroad to present the Gettysburg Address. The rail trail also provides economic benefits for the towns along the trail. Ed Hughes, a man who had been out of work for over a year in New Freedom, PA, opened a bike shop when he heard news of the developing Heritage rail-trail. The former farmer took the opportunity to learn a new business, taking advantage of the possible economic boost made possible by the future rail-trail. His business jumped from an original 100 customers to 8,000 in 2004, a span of ten years.

To learn more about the Heritage Rail-Trail, visit either the yorkcountytrails.org site or americantrails.org.

Next month’s feature: The GAP, where trail development is economic development…

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