Yorkers push for Grand History Trail around region
It would be a 250-mile loop, a giant, vaguely ovoid route connecting some of the most historical landmarks in the mid-Atlantic region.
The Grand History Trail would run from York City to Gettysburg to Frederick, Maryland, to Washington, D.C., to Annapolis and then Baltimore before finally returning to York.
Some of these routes already exist and others are planned, but there are some big gaps in the conceptual mega-trail. For example, the areas around Gettysburg and between that town and Frederick don't really have a whole lot in the way of existing multipurpose trails, meaning routes for cyclists, walkers and runners.
And that's where some Yorkers come into the picture. A group of eight to 10 people plans to depart from in front of the Colonial Court House on West Market Street in York City on Sept. 5, with the intent of riding the entire length of the proposed trail, making stops along the way to tout the benefits of supporting it.
Angela Edris, of West Manchester Township, heard about the idea and wanted to get involved. She'll be one of the group.
"I have a lot of conditioning to do in the next two weeks," she said with a laugh.
She said they'll talk about, among other things, the economic and health benefits of the trail.
"We're trying to raise awareness of what the trail concept is," she said.
HIstoric sites: Don Gogniat, who's been one of the driving forces for the trail over the now near-decade people have been talking about it, said a recently completed similar type of trail that extends from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., has brought about $50 million in extra revenue to the length of the route.
"This is about health, wealth and joy," said Gogniat, who's served on the York County Heritage Rail Trail Authority.
"There are over 1,000 places along the trail that have historical significance," he said. "It goes through all these wonderful places."
The Rail Trail, running from York City to the Mason-Dixon Line, would be part of this system of trails, and it is already in place and popular. The stretch from York to Hanover is still in the works.
"There are a couple issues between here and Hanover that need to be worked out," Gogniat said.
He said there's been a little pushback from people whose property is very close to the trail, but there hasn't been much.
He's optimistic the organizers will get all the rights of way worked out in the near future.
History: The concept of the Grand History Trail had been in the works for a while. He said the idea became pretty popular around 2007.
"Everybody was very excited about it, and then the recession hit, and then nobody cared," he said.
But now the loose collection of people who favor it is beginning to coalesce into a formal group.
Gogniat said they'll be trying to make a formal nonprofit organization, and state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, will begin to put together a commission to work on it.
"I think we're moving along very well," Gogniat said.
— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at email@example.com.