Anniversary for Ghost Town Trail

Dee Columbus, former executive director of the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority, speaks about how the Ghost Town Trail was first brought to fruition during a 25th anniversary celebration of the trail held Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at the Eliza Furnace trailhead in Vintondale.

Leaders gathered last week to mark the 25th anniversary of the popular Ghost Town Trail, which covers 36 miles in Cambria and Indiana counties.

The trail began as a 16-mile route between Dilltown and Nanty Glo in 1994, and now links Black Lick in eastern Indiana County and Ebensburg, connecting with various other trails along the way. 

The pathway is open year-round to cycling, hiking and cross-country skiing.

“There were people who had a vision for this trail,” said Brad Clemenson, of the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority, which oversees Cambria’s portion of the trail. 

But, he added: “Our work is far from over.”

A two-mile extension of the trail past Revloc opened in August. And 5.5 miles remain to be developed in Cambria Township to complete its 32-mile and 16-mile loops, which will make it the first continuous rail-trail loop in the nation.

“Hopefully, 25 years from now, we’re celebrating the whole thing,” said Cliff Kitner, authority executive director.

In addition to obvious health benefits, the trail has provided a strong economic impact on the communities it passes. 

According to a 2009 survey by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 88.4% of respondents indicated they had purchased “hard goods” (bikes, bike accessories, clothing, etc.) in the past year in conjunction with their use of the trail, and roughly 72% indicated they had purchased some form of “soft goods” (water, soda, candy, ice cream, lunches, etc.) while visiting the trail. Ten years later, those figures are likely significantly higher.

“Trails are helping build a better future,” President Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky has said. “It’s important we never take these experiences for granted.”

 We agree, and urge our readers to take advantage of what the Ghost Town Trail has to offer.


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