2017 State of the Trail

2017 STATE OF THE TRAIL

2017 has been an interesting year for the Armstrong Trail and the Armstrong Rails to Trails Association – ARTA.  We welcomed new board members and said good bye to former board members.  We developed a good working relationship with local Boy Scout troops which has enabled us to complete projects along the trail.   The Board set goals for 2017 of improving directional signage along the trail and working on the historical restoration projects at the Coal Tower at Redbank and the turntable at Phillipston.  Progress has been made on all of these goals.  Signage has been improved along the trail and AVLT has placed trail maps on many of the mile markers to help trail users.

Work is ongoing at both the Coal Tower and the Turntable.  The graffiti on the Coal Tower has been painted over and has remained clean for almost a year.  The pit at the turntable has been cleaned out, vegetation and dirt removed, and the cracks have been filled and sealed, to help prevent future vegetation growth.  The panels on the turntable bridge have been painted covering graffiti.  Work is currently taking place to improve drainage and landscape around the outside of the turntable.  Replacement of the short ties under the outer rail will start soon.  Future plans for that area include a family picnic area with a pavilion.

Signs designating the Railroad Heritage Area of the Armstrong Trail along with signs identifying the Armstrong Trail and the Redbank Trail have been constructed and placed along the trail.  Three bat boxes were built and located near Phillipston and Redbank.  Most of these projects have been completed by local Boy Scouts working with ARTA.

ARTA and the Trail are both benefiting from a new collaboration with local Boy Scout troops.  This year, four scouts have worked with ARTA to complete projects along the trail to become an Eagle Scout.  Working with the scouts has been a good experience for everyone involved.  The scouts and their families have learned about local railroad history and continue to be very interested in the trail and its history.  ARTA has benefitted by having manpower to complete projects which make the trail more enjoyable for all of its users.

ARTA volunteers continue to help AVLT with trail maintenance year round.  Work includes mowing along the entire trail throughout the summer, vegetation control, removing downed trees and debris following storms and whenever necessary, and resurfacing trail and improving parking areas at trailheads.  ARTA volunteers work year long picking up trash along the trail and in April sponsored a trash cleanup day from the trail from Rosston through Kittanning as part of the Great American Clean Up – Keep PA Beautiful Event.

ARTA continues to provide Port-a-Potties at remote locations along the trail at Lock & Dam 8, Rimer, and Phillipston for use by trail users.  Several new memorial benches have been installed and a covered picnic table will soon be placed just north of the Coal Tower.  Our first Little Free Library was established, along with benches and a walkway, north of Lock & Dam 8 in memory of Kennedy Ross.

ARTA hosted the 6th Annual Eat Play Ride fundraising event in May and good time was had by all in attendance.

Upcoming on Saturday October 28th will be our COLOR ME RUN 5K/1 mile family fun event taking place on the trail in Ford City.  Come join the fun!

Other organizations continue to utilize the trail for their events including the YMCA 5/10 K race, Wildflower Walk sponsored by AVLT and The East Brady Riverfest 5K.

ARTA maintains a website and Facebook page promoting the Armstrong Trail and association events.  Every week we receive several requests for information or comments about the trail from these sources.  Pictures taken along the trail and experiences are always welcome to help promote trail use.

Allegheny Valley Land Trust -AVLT – has done drainage work at various locations along the trail, worked to complete grant work on the Mile 61-66 project, Manorville and Templeton; installed an on-line counter in Kittanning, coordinated the ongoing mowing and vegetation control along the trail, maintained and repaired equipment when necessary, and has diligently worked to keep the trail safe for all authorized users, including working with law enforcement when appropriate.  ARTA volunteers have helped with many of these projects.  AVLT has also supervised work days for Probation performing garbage pick-up and vegetation controls.

CareerTRACK workers, under the supervision of AVLT, helped with mowing, treadway improvements and repairs, gate and bollard installation and repairs, assisted in removing downed trees and vegetation control; placed plantings on steep slopes to minimize erosion, helped install mile marker maps, and installed split rail fence in Manorville and Hayes Run.

The Armstrong Conservation District received a PennVEST grant for $925,000 for Nonpoint Source Pollution for the area from the Brady Tunnel through Sarah Furnace.

Our efforts are appreciated.  Here are some comments received from trail users:  “Love riding the trail!”,  “Best trail around, well taken care of”,  “Thank you for all the hard work.  My favorite trail.  I drive 45 minutes 1-2 times a week to ride it”, and “Very beautiful trail.  We enjoy riding it when we are up that way.  Please thank all the volunteers who help maintain it.”

In all, 2017 has been a busy year for ARTA.  None of this would have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our board members and volunteers.  To all of you, a huge THANK YOU!

Anita Smith, ARTA President