NANTY GLO – Extending the Ghost Town Trail has been a piece-by-piece effort.
A quarter-mile extension of the trail near the Nanty Glo Park and Pool Wednesday is a quarter mile closer to finishing 5.25 miles of the Ghost Town Trail that would make it the first continuous rail-trail loop in the nation.
“We always talk about little by little, bit by bit,” said Cliff Kitner, executive director of the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority, which owns the Ghost Town Trail, Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail and Path of the Flood Trail.
This portion of the trail creates a second trailhead in Nanty Glo, said Cambria County President Commissioner Tom Chernisky. It was completed through an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.
Mike Kane, president and executive director of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, called recreation “a pivot point” to moving the community forward, not just for visitors, but local residents.
“This is a ‘we’ moment,” he said.
“The vision is now a reality. Our challenge is to keep it going.”
Laurie Lafountaine was one of the individuals who had the initial vision of the Ghost Town Trail, the first 16 miles of which celebrated 25 years in September.
“There’s never a ribbon cutting on this trail that’s too short,” said Lafountaine, who’s also a founding member of the C&I Trail Council.
Lafountaine said Ghost Town Trail users frequently request camping along the trail, and this extension will provide some access to campsites near the Nanty Glo Park and Pool.
Red tape required for trail construction paid for through state and/or federal funds can become an obstacle, Lafontaine said, recognizing that private donations and volunteer efforts are paramount for these types of projects.
Along the new stretch of the trail, Ben Schweitzer, an Eagle Scout with the Ebensburg Boy Scout troop, constructed a wooden bridge for one of his service projects.
“It was a long process,” he said.
Shawn McMullen, who represents Nanty Glo Recreation, said two people from Vancouver, Canada, recently came through the area on the Ghost Town Trail on their way to New York City and stayed close to where the new trail piece now exists.
Chernisky noted that two Oregon residents also traveling to New York City via the Ghost Town Trail were pointed toward food, shower facilities and shelter by members of the Nanty Glo Fire Department.
“What this means to us is access,” McMullen said, the opportunity to attract more visitors to the park and eventually help with renovations there.