May 6, 2012

Over 7 miles of the Tecumseh Trail is open


BY RYAN BERRY
The trail runs from Arcanum Bear’s Mill Road to Bradford. In addition to marked bike trails on Spidel, Hahn and New Harrison Roads and Main and Bridge Streets in Gettysburg, the trail includes newly constructed sections between Arcanum Bear’s Mill and Spidel Roads, and from Bridge St. in Gettysburg to New Harrison Road near Bradford. The Mill Road Bridge, Darke County’s oldest bridge, has also been closed to vehicular traffic and is one of the most scenic spots on the trail.
During the dedication ceremonies, Van Frank pointed out this trail was made possible through a collaboration of public, private and governmental agencies. Grants were received through the Clean Ohio Fund and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been very supportive in making the trail possible. He also thanked the volunteers for their numerous hours of work in helping get the trail constructed, clearing debris and continuing to police the trail to keep it clean for all who visit.
Darke County Engineer Jim Surber noted his office was happy to provide the engineering work for the trail and said, “I can guarantee you it is well built.”
Early in the process, Van Frank called on Bob Shook to come and speak to a group about the trails. Shook was influential in getting 16-miles of trails built in Miami County from the Montgomery County line to Piqua. He congratulated Darke County and said, “You did a fantastic job in a short period of time.” His hope is to connect Darke County with Miami County through a trail from Piqua to Bradford.
Although discussions for this trail began in 2003, the vision for a bicycle trail began 44 years ago. Susan Gray and a small group of visionaries approached ODOT about turning the abandoned DG&U railroad line into a bicycle trail from Darke County to Dayton. Gray noted she received a return letter from ODOT in opposition to the idea. “Thanks for changing your mind,” she said.
Gray pointed out that although they didn’t get the bicycle trail in 1968, those efforts became the beginning stages of what would eventually become the Darke County Park District, which was established in 1972.
Even before the trail was dedicated area residents have already been discovering the benefits of the trail. Carla Harmon, a Gettysburg resident, has been losing weight by using the trail. She is also impressed with the number of people enjoying the trail and how the community has taken ownership by keeping it clean. She has witnessed people picking up trash, kids learning to ride their bikes and kids playing.
John Dillon also commented on the benefit the trail has had in the community. By walking the trail, he and his wife have lost 100-pounds. He has also been able to establish relationships with neighbors he didn’t know before.
Because of the success of the trail, Darke County Commissioner Diane Delaplane believes the trail will be an economic tool for the county. In fact, the trail is already listed in the bikeways map.
Senator Bill Beagle and Representative Jim Buchy were also on-hand to offer comments and present a proclamation from the Ohio General Assembly.
According to Van Frank, the Park District is not finished building trails. He would like to see the trail extend to Union City, but that could take another eight or nine years to complete.

Historic Trail

A portion of the Tecumseh Trail is part of the Lincoln Funeral Train path. Lincoln’s Funeral train used the rails through Darke County on April 30, 1865. The train arrived in Gettysburg at 1:10 a.m.
A sign will be erected along the trail in Gettysburg noting the historic event.
Park District officials, state and local government representatives, Friends of the Parks, volunteers and trail users cut the ribbon on the new trail. Eileen Levering had the honor of cutting the ribbon. She submitted the winning name for the trail. (Berry photo)
The Tecumseh Trail is open to walkers/runner, bicyclists and horseback riders. Roger Van Frank, director of the Darke Co. Park District, asked horseback riders to stay on the grass next to the pavement. (Berry photo)


The dedication ride was shortened due to rain, but several families still enjoyed the ride. (Berry photo)

The Mill Road Bridge has been closed to motor vehicle traffic, which makes it one of the more scenic spots on the trail. (Berry photo)

This is a view of the start of the trail on Arcanum-Bears Mill Road. (Berry photo)

Additional Pictures from the Event

A view of the trail from the Bridge Street entrance in Gettysburg.

Roger Van Frank speaks at the dedication ceremony.

Bicyclists head on the dedication bike ride.

Bicyclists head on the dedication bike ride.

Bicyclists head on the dedication bike ride.

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