Rail Trail E Newsletter September 2021 #59

First off, we are postponing our conference GS2021 to July 30, 2022. To be then known as GS2022. Covid is coming back a bit too strong for us to feel confident to do a an in-person conference this fall. Several nearby, prominent events have also been postponed so we are feeling the we've made a correct, prudent decision.

If you have booked-in already, we are are hoping that you'll stick with us and come to the event next summer, but if you need to get your registration fee back, please email me and we'll back you out. No problem. Safety is our main concern.

Also of note is that I've been asked to speak at the big Preservation Mass conference on this Friday the 24th at 10 a.m. Via Zoom. They asked me to talk about the history of the Rails-to-Trails movement and what is the potential for calling out the history of RRs on what are rail trails today.

This is a special treat for me because when I started on this life changing journey 27 years ago, I was drawn towards the history of these forgotten places. And now, one of the premier historic preservation organizations in the northeast is effectively asking me to teach them about this subject. Wow. I've given over 1,200 presentations on these topics in 21 states and this will be in my top 5 for sure.

And finally, I normally keep the stories to be within 150 miles or so from my house, but I couldn't resist including a story from the Greenville, SC area where the former RR used to be owned by a company, that I used to work for. Pinsly RR Company. You'll get a kick out that story too.

Craig Della Penna, Exec. Director
Norwottuck Network
62 Chestnut St. Northampton, MA 01062
413 575 2277 CraigDP413@gmail.com
In the GREEN area, we have news about the
Mass Central Rail Trail
and its connecting paths

  • Half-day indoor conference with outdoor tours in the afternoon.
  • Two notable keynote speakers
  • Set in a historic church as our venue
  • Five walking or biking tours of the developing trail and historic factory town of Gilbertville, Massachusetts.
  • $39 + Event Brite fee = 43.01 includes light breakfast, lunch, networking, and afternoon tour to chose from.
  • Venue capacity is 300, but we will be watching COVID. If we can go to full capacity that'll be great, but lets see what happens this winter.

9-24 @10 A.M. VIA ZOOM
The conference cost is $25 and that charge will not only get you into my talk, but all other sessions that day.

AND being on Zoom means that you'll be able to see ALL the sessions later on, at any time convenient for you. The best bargain around.
I've been invited to speak at the PRESERVATION MASS annual conference about Rail Trails in general and the Mass Central Rail Trail in a historic context.

Here's some of themes I'll be touching on:
  • What is a Rail Trail?
  • History of how this all got started?
  • What is going on with the longest and most complicated one--the MCRT?
  • What the Norwottuck Network can do to bring value?
  • What is happening in some of the Gateway Cities?
  • Why this is so important in Mass?
  • What the network will look like when complete?
Communities on the 
 on the MCRT and their websites

Did you know that many communities (or groups like land trusts) on the MCRT alignment are working on their section of the trail? 

Here are links to websites where you can learn who the contact person is, when these groups meet, when hearings are being planned and how to sign up to get notices sent to you directly.
Belmont: Link here to the town appointed committee. 
Belmont: Link here to the Belmont Citizens Forum.
Belmont: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group.
Somerville: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group. 
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Land Trust's site.
Walham: Link here to the Waltham Bike Committee.
Waltham: Link here to the City's page about the MCRT.
Weston: Link here to the town's page about the MCRT
Weston: Link here to the history of both the RR and the advocacy to create the trail. Over 25 years of advocacy. It is now open.
Wayland: Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S intersecting trail--Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 
Hudson: Link here for the NE-SW intersecting trail--Assabet River Rail Trail.
Berlin-Hudson: Link here to the new FaceBook group.
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee. They also have a pretty nice website with pictures of the existing dead RR corridor along other maps and images of a future trail. Link here.
Wayside segment of the MCRT: Link here to a history of DCR's efforts on this.
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust: Link here.
Clinton Tunnel: Link here to a story on WBZ Boston TV about the tunnel.
Wachusett Greenways area: Link here.
East Quabbin Land Trust: Link here
Palmer coming soon 
Ware: Link here to the Facebook group about this segment of the MCRT'. 
Belchertown: Link for the site for Friends of the Belchertown Greenway.
Amherst, Hadley on DCR's Norwottuck section of the MCRT: Link here.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails website.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails Facebook.
Here's DOT's Recent Feasibility study about how to piece together the middle sections of the MCRT.
Great Story in the Commonwealth Mag by Galen Mook and Josh Ostroff. SEPTEMBER IS Bay State Bike Month, where riders from across the state come together to join a variety of community events promoting all the joys of bicycling throughout Massachusetts, including town-wide rides like the Tour de Newton, a bike commuter breakfast in Holyoke, a Cub Scout “bike rodeo” in Worcester, a fundraiser ride for connecting the pathways around New Bedford, and bike giveaways in Mattapan. Read more.
Donated Rail Trail benches honor Unified Sports, beloved Hudson community members
HUDSON – The Assabet Valley Rail Trail, one of Hudson’s out-of-door enhancements, has been enriched with the addition of eight new Memorial benches.

According to Kali Coughlan, program coordinator of the Hudson Health Department’s Mass in Motion Program, when the call went out in the spring to help fund installation costs, “the donor spots were filled within 48 hours.” Read more.
What do Rail-Trails Do? Nothing but Good, Swamp Rabbit's Neighbor's Say
People who live near South Carolina's 12-year-old Swamp Rabbit Trail say the trail has been a economic boon and a driver of public health and community cohesiveness.

 TRAVELERS REST, SC — On Monday night, the Transylvania County Commission raised a question about the planned Ecusta Trail’s potential “negative impact on existing manufacturing employers or businesses.” Read more. (I know, this is outside my usual 'service territory' but I wanted to include it because the last 'real RR' that operated here was owned by Pinsly RR Company. The company that I used to work for eons ago. A tip of the hat to John Levine, President of Pinsly, for his visionary leadership that ensures that their former RR corridors become useful assets for communities.)
Volunteer of the Week: David Mark, of Maynard, spruces up the Rail Trail
Our “Volunteer of the Week” feature highlights community members who go out of their way to help others, and in so doing, make the world a little bit better.

This week, we highlight David Mark, of Maynard, longtime volunteer at the Assabet River Rail Trail and OARS.
Tell us about your volunteer work.
Having moved to Maynard in 2000, my two long-term volunteer efforts have been the Assabet River Rail Trail creation and maintenance, and the OARS (Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers) annual river clean-ups. Read more.
Ribbon-cutting on the developing New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway in New Haven, CT
Public officials and cycling advocates tossed shovels full of dirt Monday to celebrate the start of construction of the city’s final leg of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail—which when finished in December 2022, will finally connect downtown to Long Wharf. That dirt-tossing marked the culmination of a celebratory press conference held in the Park of the Arts behind Audubon Street. Read More.
Bay Circuit Trail: Thru-Hiking Boston’s Emerald Necklace
I found myself in a strange headspace when I got home from my recent thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I planned a month and a half long break from thru-hiking until starting the Arizona Trail in October. After warm reunions with my friends and community, I felt the hiking “itch” sneak back in…my body was demanding to be put to work. Living in Salem MA, I’m familiar with the Bay Circuit Trail. I’d hiked nearly all of the trail via day hikes in previous years, but I’ve always wanted to thru-hike it. Since I still had my trail legs from the AT and some time to kill, I figured why not now?
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
Bridges for Animals to Safely Cross Freeways Are Popping Up Around the World By Jessica Stewart on February 9, 2017
Banff National Park. Alberta, Canada. Image via Joel Sartore Wildlife crossings are more than simple road signs as you speed down the highway. Conservationists use all sorts of methods to keep our furry friends safe from becoming roadkill or having their habitats fragmented. Increasingly, animal bridges are being employed around the globe in order to preserve our ecosystems.

In the United States alone, it's estimated that road systems affect the ecology of one-fifth the land area of the country and that vehicle-animal collisions cost $8 billion a year. Read more
We Are Going to Need a Lot More Electric Delivery Bikes Shipping companies in European cities are replacing delivery vans with cargo bikes and trikes. But the U.S. rollout of these vehicles has been frustratingly slow. By David Zipper

So it seems odd that one very obvious climate-fighting implement — the electric cargo bicycle — remains such a rare sight in American cities.

Heavy-duty bikes and trikes equipped with batteries for extra pedal power could replace many of the delivery vehicles that haul packages around cities. A recent study of London found that cargo bikes could reduce emissions from package delivery by one-third compared with electric vans, and by 90% compared with diesel ones. Read more.

The new Norwottuck Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation specifically set up to help get the longest rail trail in New England--the Mass Central Rail Trail --built-out, operational and notable.
We can help do that by making small, mini-grants available to local groups and communities that will bring restore/renovate/replace historic mile-markers on the corridor. Or help fund kiosks that will call out forgotten railroad or industrial history of that locale.
We will want to work with the state park agency Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on standardized kiosk designs.
We will keep you all posted as to developments as we go. We have made it easy to DONATE through the Network for Good.
Amazingly, Constant Contact alerted us that this newsletter is in the top 10% of all of Constant Contact's newsletters, worldwide, in terms of readership engagement.
Imagine that!