Sayre and Athens have one and love it. Towanda, Wellsboro, and Lewisburg boast about theirs too. Not so with Canton or Troy. But if a small group of concerned citizens is successful, things are about to change. They’re talking about rail-trails, those smooth, wide, well-maintained paths through the woods for walkers and bikers to use.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, the local Northern Central Rail-to-Trail (NCRT) club will show a movie about long-distance hikers at Troy’s Memorial Auditorium. Everyone is invited to this free event. Donations will be accepted. The show begins at 6:30 p.m.
“Towns with walking trails are healthy towns,” says Lynne Whelden, the movie’s producer. “Walking outside keeps the doctor away.”
NCRT has maintained a low profile for the past three years. The small group of grandparents, business leaders, homemakers and teachers have knocked on doors, contacted important landowners, mounted petition drives, and conducted a Go-Fund-Me campaign. Civic-minded social clubs have contributed money. Two spirited public meetings took place in Troy and Canton.
“Landowners want to know what’s in it for them.” Whelden goes on to list some advantages; better health, happier citizens, increased property values for those generous, community-minded landowners. “Towns pull together when there’s a rail-trail connecting them.”
Contributions from the Thursday night movie will help pay for the necessary feasibility study currently being conducted by Hunt Engineers of Towanda. If the group gets a green light and if vital papers get signed, then the hard work of trail design and construction can begin.
Rail-trails take years, even decades to take shape. Athen’s Diahoga Trail took seven years. Wellsboro’s Pine Creek Trail took over 20 years to reach its present 65 miles. As for Canton and Troy volunteers are starting out with baby steps. Just over two miles in Troy and three miles in Canton are under consideration.
Some day, all rail-trails will network with each other. That’s the plan according to the national organization, www.railstotrails.org. An adventurous kid from Canton could walk out the front door, step onto the Northern Central Rail Trail, and a few months later be in California.