Wilbur Wright Trail
Wilbur Wright was born in Millville, Indiana in Henry County. Now, Henry County accords a new honor to the celebrated ‘first in flight’ Wrights, the Wilbur Wright Trail. The trail officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony just last Saturday, September 21, 2013. Over eight years in the making, the trail begins at the Henry County YMCA and generally follows the Pennsylvania railroad corridor northeast to a trailhead at the junction of State Road 103 and County Road 150N, in the Wilbur Wright Fish and Wildlife Area. Future plans are to extend the trail in 5 phases to its ultimate destination, the Cardinal Greenway rail-trail, in Losantville in Randolph County.
Doing so, the trail will pass through the burgs of Hillsboro, Messick, and the town of Moorland, according to Henry County Healthy Communities.
Construction cost $1,403,700 for the new two miles of paved throughway for running, bicycling, and walking, or, Phase 1 of the project.
The trail is the brainchild of Healthy Communities of Henry County, and Jeff Ray, a volunteer, has been spearheading the work and guiding the project since its inception. According to the Henry County Healthy Communities website, planning began in 2004 for the trail, backed by the Henry County Commissioners and funded by a Transportation Enhancement grant. Transportation Enhancement (TE-21) funds made possible the design, engineering, construction and land purchase for this initial phase of development, the website states.
“People are really using it (the trail),” said Ray, in a recent phone interview. He noted that caution tape is being used for the next couple of weeks until railings get installed on the two bridges and 600 feet of hillside.
The trail opened before all the punch work was completed because of public demand for the trail, Jeff also noted.
The next phase of construction will extend the trail another 1.1 miles through the Fish and Wildlife area, paralleling the old railroad right of way. According to Jeff, the 1.1 mile Phase 2 will require $500, 000, using an easement granted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources through the Wildlife area. Seven culverts lie along this next stretch, across flat farmland and without bridges, reducing costs needed for completion of this section.
Opposition to the trail by land owners means that more effort has to go into trying to acquire land parallel to the former Pennsylvania Railroad corridor in an effort to adhere to the historic corridor said Jeff.
Despite many setbacks, difficulties in negotiating with the railroad, government bureaucracy, and landowners opposed to the trail, the experience for the community and trail supporters makes it all worthwhile. Jeff commented: “All users are ecstatic after experiencing the Wilbur Wright Trail and are so thankful Healthy Communities preserved it. They all ask, what is the plan for the extension of the trail?”
Article by Marietto Vian