Full Article found – http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/new-september-th-national-memorial-trail-passes-through-lancaster-county/article_2c4f9316-5e22-11e5-a926-974d511b9b8b.html

AD CRABLE | Staff Writer September 21, 2015


The 1,300-mile September 11th National Memorial Trail that backers hope will become a well-used pilgrimage between hallowed 9/11 memorials in Somerset County, the Pentagon and New York city includes several trails and stops in and around Lancaster County.

Pennsylvania figures prominently in the trail corridor, a triangular loop forever connecting the three landmark memorials. In Pennsylvania, there are roughly 500 miles in separate loops in southern and central parts of the state.

When complete, the trail will be the longest in Pennsylvania and backers say they hope it and a parallel road route for cars and motorcycles will draw hundreds of thousands of people annually.

That has local tourism officials excited.

“If it brings in more visitors, that’s exactly what we want to see,” says Mark Platts, president of the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, an effort to promote the Susquehanna River’s cultural and natural heritage in Lancaster and York counties.

“On a deeper level, it will help communities feel a part of something that many individuals already do,” he adds, referring to the deep connection many have to the 9/11 tragedy.

The trail passes through Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. It is made up mostly of existing trails and greenways suitable for bicycling and walking, though some key missing links need to be built.

After 11 years of planning and work, the trail is now rideable, though currently there are some long stretches along roads.

An inaugural bike ride to call attention to the Memorial Trail began Sept. 11 from the newly opened Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville. It is scheduled to reach the National Sept. 11 Memorial in New York on Monday.

Last Wednesday, the entourage stopped at the steps of the Capitol in Harrisburg and delivered the new alignment of the Pennsylvania route to the secretaries of PennDOT and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Then trail officials and backers of the nonprofit September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance rode bikes on parts of the Conewago Recreation Trail in northern Lancaster County on Wednesday, as well as the connecting Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.

The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail from Columbia to south of Elizabethtown also is included in the new national trail. So is the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge on Route 462.

Parallel road routes will be designated for those in automobiles and motorcycles.

The trail also links to other memorials and historic sites chosen because they “reflect the spirit of American patriotism, resilience and perseverance.”

Among those in Lancaster County are Lancaster city for its Revolutionary War ties, various sites in Lititz tied to the Revolutionary War, Underground Railroad sites, Civil War bridge piers in Columbia, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, President James Buchanan’s home at Wheatland and the Ephrata Cloister.

With the recent opening of the $26-million Flight 93 National Memorial in rural Somerset County, National Park Service officials have predicted hundreds of thousands of people will make at least part of the pilgrimage annually.

“I think it would be great,” says Platts. “I think that kind of links and connections with local trails and local towns when they are tied into something bigger really expands the reach of what we’re trying to do in the region here.”

Among the key trails that are part of the memorial trail are the C&O Canal, the Great Allegheny Passage and the East Coast Greenway.

A key missing link to connect the Flight 93 National Memorial to the Great Allegheny Passage trail was solved last week when CSX donated 130 acres of undeveloped land so a new 7-mile trail can be built.

Another yet-to-be built obstacle in Pennsylvania calls for the restoration of the collapsed Walnut Street bridge in Harrisburg.

In Lancaster County, longterm plans are to connect the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail and Conewago Recreation Trail.

“It’s like the Appalachian Trail, it’s a multi-year project. We know that,” says Kent Taylor, an Elizabethtown resident and DCNR employee who has done volunteer work to help map the trail alignment through Pennsylvania.

“I think what makes this unique is it is like some of the European pilgrimage trails. This will be something people will want to do in its entirety.”

Taylor says local communities such as Columbia, Marietta and Bainbridge that would be part of the memorial trail have good reason to be excited.

“Particularly for these small communities, they do see it as a chance for economic development and a way to bring people off the interstate and into their towns.”

This is how David Brickley, president of trail alliance describes the trail, “The trail serves as a symbol of the resiliency and character of the communities in which the victims and their families lived and worked. It also has been designed to link historic points of interest along the route where these fundamental traits of American character have shone throughout our history.”

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