National Trust Issues Appeal to Help Save America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2019

National Mall Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C. is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2019 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By National Trust for Historic Preservation

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation puts out an emergency call to protect the most endangered historic places. This year’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places sheds light on important examples of our nation’s heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Over 300 places have been listed in its 32-year history, and in that time, fewer than 5 percent of listed sites have been lost.

The 2019 list includes a diverse mix of historic places across America that face a range of challenges and threats, from climate change to inappropriate development to neglect and disuse.

Find out what you can do to support these irreplaceable sites:

Tenth Street Historic District, Dallas, Texas

ADD YOUR NAME

Primarily settled by formerly enslaved people after the Civil War, Dallas’ Tenth Street Historic District includes a collection of buildings dating from the late 19th to early 20th century. A 2010 change to a local ordinance allowed the city to obtain demolition permits for houses less than 3,000 square feet without Landmark Commission review, which is substantially increasing the rate of demolition. To date, at least 70 of the district’s 260 homes have been demolished.

To challenge this local law, a local preservation group filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas. Add your name to our petition telling the City of Dallas to amend or repeal this unjust city ordinance.

Nashville’s Music Row, Nashville, Tennessee

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Nashville’s Music Row is a world-class musical mecca that harbors more than 200 music-related businesses, making it unlike any other place in the world. Out of its modest homes and large commercial buildings has emerged an unmatched canon of music recordings across a wide variety of musical styles, which has delighted music fans for generations.

Despite its critical role in the identity, economy, and culture of internationally renowned “Music City,” Music Row is on pace to becoming a thing of the past. Since 2013, 50 buildings—the majority serving music-related functions—have been demolished to make way for new development. With a new plan to guide Music Row’s future under development, now is an important time to urge Nashville lawmakers to preserve and protect this epicenter of America’s musical heritage.

James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, Illinois

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The James R. Thompson Center is Chicago’s best example of grand-scale Postmodern architecture. But Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed legislation allowing for sale of the building within two years to help fill a state budget gap. Without preservation protections, the Thompson Center could be demolished. Add your name to our list urging Governor Pritzker to require retention and reuse of the Thompson Center when the building is sold.

Industrial Trust Company Building, Providence, Rhode Island

An iconic part of the Providence skyline, the 1928 Industrial Trust Company Building is under threat due to deterioration and deferred maintenance after six years of vacancy. While this site is located within a qualified “Opportunity Zone” (an area eligible for capital gains tax incentive benefits), there is no redevelopment plan for the so-called Superman Building, and its future is in question. Read More.

Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah, Southeast Utah

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Archaeologists believe this area to be one of the country’s most culturally rich but unprotected landscapes open to oil and gas extraction. In the last two years, the Bureau of Land Management dramatically escalated leasing activity in the region, despite concerns from the National Trust, affected tribes, and our regional partners. Send a letter to the Department of the Interior urging them to recognize the cultural significance of these lands.

The Excelsior Club, Charlotte, North Carolina

Listed in the Green Book, the Excelsior Club was a leading private African American social club in the Southeast, hosting artists like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong during its heyday. The Art Moderne building needs significant investment. The property is currently listed for sale for $1.5 million, but even if a buyer is found, a reuse plan and significant investments are necessary to ensure a strong future. Read more.

National Mall Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.

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This iconic cultural landscape comprises some of our nation’s most renowned monuments and famed cherry blossom trees. It’s estimated that as much as $500 million is needed to upgrade and maintain one of the most popular and visited sites in the National Park System. Join our three-year campaign to ensure the Tidal Basin is preserved for future generations.

Hacienda Los Torres, Lares, Puerto Rico

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Hacienda Los Torres—built in 1846 during the height of Puerto Rico’s coffee industry by Jose Maria Torres—is one of the last historic coffee plantation houses on the island and one of the oldest remaining structures in Puerto Rico. It’s also associated with the “Grito de Lares” revolt and the Spanish-American War.

Long-term deterioration and the effects of multiple hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria in 2017, threaten this historic site. Support saving Hacienda Los Torres.

Willert Park Courts, Buffalo, New York

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This complex, a unique example of early Modernism with bas-reliefs depicting scenes of everyday life, was New York State’s first housing project constructed specifically for African Americans. Today, the site is vacant and many of its structures are open to the elements. The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has proposed demolishing the complex to construct replacement housing.

Ask the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority to preserve and redevelop rather than demolish this important site.

Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital, Mount Vernon, Alabama

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This arsenal was held by the Confederacy during the Civil War and housed Geronimo and approximately 400 Apache prisoners of war during the 1880s and 1890s. The hospital complex served as a segregated mental health facility for African Americans after 1900. The complex closed in 2012 and is currently vacant and deteriorating. Tell the Alabama Department of Mental Health that you support the site’s preservation and economic revitalization.

Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge, Bismarck, North Dakota

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The Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge connects Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota. Constructed in 1883, it was the first rail bridge built across the upper Missouri River. The iconic bridge has been recognized as an International Site of Conscience for the role it played in opening the western United States to white settlement—and the resulting profound impacts to Native American communities—but it has been proposed for demolition by railway company BNSF.

The Coast Guard is in consultation with BNSF and other parties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The Coast Guard has proposed a conditional permit that would require BNSF to retain the historic bridge until after an adjacent new bridge is constructed, in order to allow time to identify a preservation solution for the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge. Tell the Coast Guard not to allow demolition of this iconic bridge.

For more information, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation using the hashtag #11Most.

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National Parks Visitor Spending Contributed $40 Billion to US Economy

Yosemite National Park, California. Visitors to the national parks generated a record  $40 billion to the US economy in 2018 and supported  329,000 jobs © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Report Finds 2018 Spending Supported 329,000 jobs in Hotels, Restaurants, Transportation, Recreation

WASHINGTON –  It is so easy just to enjoy our national parks – our national heritage – and not realize that they are also a serious engine of economic activity, indeed a lifeline, for localities and the nation as a whole. As the summer vacation and travel seasons opens, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced today that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2018 resulted in a $40.1 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 329,000 jobs.

According to the annual National Park Service report, 2018 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, more than 318 million visitors spent $20.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park in the National Park System. Of the 329,000 jobs supported by visitor spending, more than 268,000 jobs exist in the park gateway communities.

“This report emphasizes the tremendous impact the national parks have on our nation’s economy and underscores the need to fulfill President Trump’s plan to rebuild park infrastructure,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “With 419 sites, and at least one in every state, our national parks continue to provide visitors, both local and destination, with innumerous recreational, inspirational, and world-class experiences.”

“National parks with their iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes represent the heart and soul of America,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “They are also a vital part of our nation’s economy, especially for park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat, hire outfitters and guides and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

Economic benefits from visitor spending increased by $2 billion and total output increased by $4.3 billion in comparison to 2017.

As a part of the report, visitor surveys were conducted at 19 parks with the results indicating that people spent more time in the parks, stayed longer in gateway communities and spent more money during their visits.

Visitation varies across the National Park System, from big parks like Blue Ridge Parkway to Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana. Blue Ridge attracted 14.6 million people who spent more than $1 billion and supported more than 15,900 jobs. Grant Kohrs Ranch drew more than 26,000 visitors who spent more than $1.5 million in the area and supported 25 local jobs.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending totaling nearly $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area with visitors spending $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

The peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by parks and by states on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view annual, trend data.

For more state-by-state information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities, go to http://www.nps.gov/[statename], for example: http://www.nps.gov/virginia.

National Park Visitor Spending Contributions to the U.S. Economy 2012-18

  Visitation: Visitor Spending: Jobs Supported: Local Jobs: Total Output:
2012: 282,765,682 $14.7 billion 242,712 201,040 $26.8 billion
2013: 273,630,895 $14.6 billion 237,599 197,343 $26.5 billion
2014: 292,800,082 $15.7 billion 276,960 235,600 $29.7 billion
2015: 307,247,252 $16.9 billion 295,339 252,030 $32 billion
2016: 330,971,689 $18.4 billion 318,000 271,544 $34.9 billion
2017: 330,882,751 $18.2 billion 306,000 255,900 $35.8 billion
2018: 318,211,833 $20.2 billion 329,000 268,195 $40.1 billion

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Women Traveling the World Features Ireland Tour

Killarney Castle, Ireland. Women Traveling the World is featuring an Ireland Emerald Island Tour, August 30-September 7, 2019.

Women Traveling the World is offering an Ireland Emerald Island Tour that includes seven days (Aug 30 – Sept 7, 2019) experiencing first-hand this beautiful country known as the Emerald Isle. (Emerald Isle is the poetic name for Ireland due to its green countryside, first referred to in print by William Drennan in his poem “When Erin first rose”).
 
The tour starts in Dublin, a city offering many pubs, live music, historic cathedrals, Trinity College, The Guinness Storehouse, St Stephens Green and so much more. Then, head off to the Wicklow country side and explore the breathtaking mountains and Powerscourt Estate. Traveling to Killarney you will pass through some quaint Irish villages.

You will get to stay in two different Castle Hotels and truly experience Ireland and all its heritage, Celtic history, and natural beauty.

The trip features beautiful landscapes and lush green colors set against the Atlantic Ocean – the cliff sides are worth the visit alone. The shorelines are trimmed by golden sands and rocky cliffs. Inland lakes and rural idylls are varied and tranquil. The Irish are some of friendliest people and enjoy sharing in myths and tales of this magical place. Home, too, of many great music artists such as U2, this is truly a gem worth exploring and taking in local Irish fare and music.
 
Tour Dates: Aug 30 – Sept 7, 2019
Cost: $1841 based on double occupancy (roommates can be provided); single supplement $750
 
Included:
7 nights’ hotel in 4* hotel with taxes
Daily breakfast
5 Dinners Including 1 Irish show
1 lunch
Entrance fees to all sites visited as per itinerary
Tour Leader with 6 or more clients
Private transfers to all included sites and cities visited
Shannon car ferry
Local Tour Guide/Private driver
Arrival transfers in Dublin if traveling on tour dates and at the same times as other travelers. TBA
Departure transfers in Shannon if traveling with the group.
 
More information at https://womentravelingtheworld.com/tour/ireland
 
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Pandaw Builds New Ship for Burma Soft-Adventure River Expeditions

Bagan, the city of temples, in Myanmar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Pandaw, a small-ship cruising company, has announced the construction of a new 14-cabin K-class ship for Burma. The ultra-shallow twin decked K-class vessel can go where other ships cannot and is perfect for Pandaw’s style of soft adventure river expeditions.

Despite the political situation in Burma and a decline in mainstream routings the demand for small ship expeditions in Burma has actually increased.

“With the recent departure of three K-class vessels to India it has proved necessary to order one more to meet this demand, principally on the Upper Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Delta expeditions into remoter untouristed parts of the country. Many of these are now fully booked for the coming season and a support vessel urgently needed,” the company said.

In the tradition of naming all K-class ships after original Irrawaddy Flotilla vessels, the new build is to be named the KANEE PANDAW, and is being built in Pandaw’s own yard in Mandalay.

These much-loved, safari-style vessels offer outdoor or indoor dining, run-round promenades and ample indoor and outdoor living space. The cabins are slightly smaller than on Pandaw’s larger ships but cleverly designed and very comfortable with roomy bathrooms.

Like all Pandaw’s expedition ships the KANEE will carry mountain bikes and is being aimed at a younger demographic and family travel into these remote reaches.

“We began in Burma 25 years ago and remain attached to the country and its people,” said Pandaw Founder, Paul Strachan.“Since we started the Pandaw Charity in 2008 the company has funded the Pandaw Clinics program providing essential health care to a whole region of the country; to me it is a personal mission to ensure that our business in Burma, despite recent political setbacks, continues to prosper so that we can maintain these funding commitments”

Pandaw enjoys one of the highest repeat rates in the industry and much of the growth in remote river cruising is coming from within the Pandaw community. Two years ago, the company launched its Pandaw Member’s Club and now has over 10,000 members seeking new adventures on the rivers of Asia.

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Grasshopper Adventures Introduces New Bike & Boat Adventures in Cambodia/Vietnam, India & Thailand

Grasshopper Adventures has introduced a new bike/boat trip to Cambodia/Vietnam © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Grasshopper Adventures, a leader in Asia bike tours, launches three bike & boat adventures for 2019 and 2020 on the Mekong in Cambodia/Vietnam, the Brahmaputra in India and the River Kwai in Thailand.

Grasshopper Adventures is partnering up with colonial and intimate river vessels on Asia’s great rivers. Cycling off-the-beaten-path, cruising along storied rivers, meeting villagers at the river banks and enjoying some scenic pedalling mixed with culture and delicious local food.

With these new itineraries unpacking is only needed once. The ships are under private charter to Grasshopper Adventures and are escorted by a Grasshopper tour leader.

Single travelers are welcome. Grasshopper Adventures is matching guest with another same sex single traveler or guest can decide to pay the single supplement for a private cabin.

“With these new, exciting and unique tours we are able to welcome non-cycling partners or friends and will have special activities planned for them each day while the riders are out on the bikes,” Adam Platt-Hepworth, Grasshopper Adventures’ founder, said. “ It’s like having a portable hotel!”

Mekong Bike & Boat Adventure, from Vietnam to  Cambodia, 9 days / 8 nights (from $4,990 per person sharing)
This epic journey on the Mekong starts at colonial Saigon in Vietnam and finishes at breath-taking Angkor in Cambodia’s Siem Reap. The RV Toum Tiou with its shallow draft can reach river arms inaccessible to other cruise lines. Guests will be cycling through Vietnam’s scenic and busy Mekong delta and exploring Cambodia’s remote and rural corners before reaching the bustling capital Phnom Penh with its colonial and Art Deco architecture. The trip ends in Siem Reap with off-the-beaten-track cycling excursions to the Angkorian temples.

6 nights on board RV Toum Tiou
2 nights at Jaya House River Park, Siem Reap

India: Bike & Boat Brahmaputra, 9 days / 8 nights (from $4,900 per person sharing)

The Brahmaputra, one of the world’s most storied rivers, flows through Assam, India’s most north-eastern region. Guests will start exploring charming and colonial Kolkata before flying to Jorhat to embark the elegant Grand Dame of the river, the RV Charaidew. The polished brass engine room, telegraph and enormous ship’s wheel bear witness to her heritage. We cycle on the world’s largest river island, Majuli and explore rural villages which have not often see foreigners. There will be national parks with plenty of wildlife from rhinos, to elephants and birds – with a bit of luck maybe a tiger spotting.

1 night at the Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
7 nights on the RV Charaidew

Thailand Bike, Boat & Beach, 8 days / 7 nights (from $3,950 per person sharing)

Guests will be cruising the scenic River Kwai and immerse into the history of the infamous Death Railway, built during  WWII. The colonial RV River Kwai will take passengers on a trip back in time. This tour combines cycling Bangkok by night, with a river cruise and the extension to the paradise in Southern Thailand, Koh Yao. Guests can take part on our included cycling, kayaking or hiking activities down south, or enjoy the stunning beach and island resort.
1 night at the Riva Surya Hotel, Bangkok
3 nights on the RV River Kwai
3 nights at Paradise Koh Yao Resort, Island of Koh Yao

For more information, visit https://www.grasshopperadventures.com

Mekong: https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/scheduled-tours/mekong-bike-boat-adventure-new-itinerary.html
India: https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/scheduled-tours/india-bike-boat-the-brahmaputra.html
Thailand: https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/scheduled-tours/thailand-bike-boat-beach.html

Grasshopper Adventures  is approaching its 15-year anniversary. Grasshopper multi day tours across Asia  feature great guides and bikes, off-the-beaten-track itineraries, unique escapes and genuine experiences and fine-tuned details. Grasshopper Adventures operates tours in Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Choose from scheduled group departures, bike & boat, private tours, family tours or self-guided trips.

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New Grasshopper Adventures Cycling Tour Explores Back Roads of Rajasthan, India


Grasshopper Adventures is introducing a cycling tour exploring the back roads of Rajasthan, India’s quintessential land of maharajas, majestic forts, lavish palaces and tigers.

(Bangkok, Thailand) — Grasshopper Adventures is introducing a cycling tour exploring the back roads of Rajasthan, India’s quintessential land of maharajas, majestic forts, lavish palaces and tigers. Starting in Delhi and finishing in Udaipur, guests will ride through rural farmlands, deserts, and mountains, while exploring the “Land of Kings”. The eight-day trip starts at $3,300 USD per person double and is scheduled for October 26-November 2, 2019.  

The remnants of a rich and romantic past have earned Rajasthan a place on most travelers’ bucket lists. It is a land of deserts, jungle, camel trains, tigers, jewels, art and vibrant culture. The festivals and cuisine are nothing short of spectacular. It is the must-see state of India, brimming with history and unique attractions.

“We will pedal 230 km through fascinating towns, ancient desert hamlets, and an oasis of Rajasthani forts,” said Grasshopper Adventures CEO Adam Platt-Hepworth. “Rajasthan is one of India’s most captivating states, famed for its historic forts and palaces, desert villages, spice markets, and the warmth of its people. This tour definitely discovers the real Rajasthan.”

The cycling follows predominantly flat, country roads and lanes with little traffic. There is some hill riding, but it is broadly achievable at a moderate level of fitness. A support vehicle is always on hand throughout the entire trip to give guests a lift if they need a break from the riding. Distances covered are between 40 km and 60 km a day. 

“Rather than the popular tourist sites, guests may well find that the highlight of this bike tour is a chance encounter with a pink-turbaned man in the middle of nowhere, or maybe a shared Rajasthani family meal,” said Platt-Hepworth. “That is the beauty of this trip!”

Highlights:

  • Touring the 15th century Mehrangarh fortress
  • Riding through the desert to Rohet
  • Taking a Jeep tour to visit the Bishnoi tribes
  • Visiting a traditional haveli for a tasty lunch
  • Boarding a train for a scenic ride from Khambli Ghat to Phulad
  • Overnighting in the lush, wooded valley of Ranakpur
  • Touring Kumbhalgarh and the world’s second largest man-made wall
  • Exploring Udaipur on a walking tour

For more info, visit https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/scheduled-tours/riding-the-real-rajasthan.html

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World Spree Travel Offers 14-Day India, Nepal Air-Inclusive Tour for $1899

The fabled Taj Majal in Agra is visited on World Spree Travel’s air-inclusive tour combining India and Nepal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bellevue, WA —Imagine a trip that combines the exotic and colorful country of India with the Himalayan nation of Nepal to the north.  All for only $135 a day—including includes deluxe hotels like Marriott, Hilton and Crowne Plaza and air fare.   World Spree Travel makes that happen with its Exotic India and Kathmandu Tour in the fall, when the 14-day trip costs $1,899.

That price includes not only round-trip international airfare from San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York, but also 5-star hotel accommodations, daily buffet breakfasts, three lunches, four dinners, all transportation in India and Nepal, comprehensive sightseeing tours with entrance fees, wonderful English-speaking tour guides, baggage handling and audio earphones. A mind-blowing flight to Mount Everest for a close-up view is optional and extra.

The tour starts in the capital, Delhi, with (cycle rickshaw) sightseeing in Mughal Old Delhi’s narrow alleys, mosques and bazaars, and monumental New Delhi’s colonial architecture reminiscent of the British Raj. There’s also a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s former residence. Then it’s on to Agra, the second city of India’s famed Golden Triangle, and that legendary symbol of love, the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal, considered the finest monument of Mughal architecture.

On the way to Jaipur, the 10th-century Chand Baori (Stepwell), merits a stop. (This incredible well, with 13 floors and 3,500 steps, inspired the centerpiece sculpture in New York City’s new Hudson Yards.)  Jaipur, the third city in the Golden Triangle, is the capital of Rajastan, the “pink city” that starred in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Here there’s a tuk-tuk ride to see historic mansions, palaces and temples, as well as a jeep ride up to the famous Amber Fort, and a visit to a home for underprivileged children.  Then it’s back to Delhi for an overnight and the flight to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, which is surrounded by the high peaks of the Himalayas..

In Kathmandu, sightseeing includes the array of temples and Nepali royal palaces in Durbar Square, and the “Monkey Temple” with its impressive stupa. Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley include Bhaktapur, the nation’s cultural gem with its appealing crafts, ornate palaces, temples galore and 19 Buddhist monasteries, and Patan, full of old charm, traditional brick houses. temples and monuments.  Then there’s Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most important Hindu temple on the  holy Bagmati River. And, of course, that thrilling flight to Mount Everest, which is optional and costs $220. After a short flight to Delhi, there’s a farewell dinner and then the flight back home.

For additional information about the Exotic India and Kathmandu Tour visit www.worldspree.com, and click India, or call toll-free 1-800-652-5656.

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Unveils Routing for ‘Great American’, a 3700-Mile Rail-Trail from Washington DC to Washington State

Biking the Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail, Confluence to Adelaide, PA. The GAP would be part of the proposed 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

How fitting that during May, National Biking Month, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has just unveiled its preferred route for its visionary Great American Rail-Trail™—or the “Great American”— a 3,700-mile biking trail that would link Washington DC with Washington State.

The proposal underscores the organization’s long-time commitment to creating an iconic piece of American infrastructure that connects more than 125 existing trails and fills 90 trail gaps to create the cross-continental recreational trail.

“Since the 1980s, RTC has understood the potential of a trail like the Great American Rail-Trail that could connect the nation. That vision has been a guidepost for the organization for 30 years. Now, we have the chance to create from that vision a national treasure that unites millions of people over thousands of miles of trail,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. “This trail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide—together—an enduring gift to the nation that will bring joy for generations to come.”

The preferred route of the nation’s first cross-country multiuse trail is detailed in a comprehensive report released by RTC today. The Great American Rail-Trail Route Assessment Report outlines RTC’s recommendation for the route, developed in close partnership with states and local trail planners and managers.

“When defining the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail, we sought a cross-country route that would provide the highest-quality experience while delivering significant economic and social benefits to the communities it connects,” said Liz Thorstensen, vice president of trail development at RTC. “This route achieves those things and more, in large part thanks to the input, support and leadership of state agencies and local partners who have built the existing trails that will make the Great American Rail-Trail possible, and whose ongoing collaboration is vital to its completion.”

The route assessment was developed over 12 months with input from RTC’s GIS analysis of more than 34,000 miles of multiuse trails; review of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing the trails along the route. The preferred route aligns with RTC’s and its partners’ criteria that specify the Great American be one contiguous route that is initially more than 80 percent, and ultimately entirely, off street and separated from vehicle traffic; comprises existing trails to the extent possible; is the most direct route possible between Washington, D.C., and Washington State; is amenable to the state and local jurisdictions that will host it; and will serve as a catalyst for local economic development, including providing services for long-distance trail travelers.

Traveling through 12 states and the District of Columbia, RTC and its partners have defined the Great American Rail-Trail as more than 3,700 miles, comprising more than 1,900 miles of existing trails—those trails already developed that will help carry the route across the country—and more than 1,700 miles of “trail gaps,”—sections of trail in need of development to fully connect the Great American into one contiguous route.

As the nation’s first cross-country multiuse trail, the Great American will connect people of all ages and abilities with America’s diverse landscapes and communities. Nearly 50 million people living within 50 miles of its route will be able to call this iconic American infrastructure their own as the trail delivers new access to the outdoors and new opportunities for physical activity and recreation. Hundreds of communities along the route will experience new opportunities for business development and tourism thanks to the Great American Rail-Trail, all while contributing to the growth of the country’s burgeoning outdoor economy—one of the largest sectors in the United States.

“We believe the Great American Rail-Trail will be a transformative project for the nation, as it magnifies on a grand scale the benefits that trails have delivered to communities for decades,” said Chao. “Whether bridging gaps within and between communities, creating safe walking and biking access to jobs, transit, shopping and green space; or serving as recreation for cyclists, runners and casual daily explorers, this will be America’s trail.”

While completion of the Great American Rail-Trail is a significant undertaking and several decades away, 52% of the path is already complete and available for public use, with plans for RTC to work in partnership with states and local jurisdictions and organizations to bring new segments online year after year.

RTC and its partners view the route assessment as a blueprint for the trail’s development that is based in the reality of existing plans and priorities. To spur trail completion, RTC has identified initial catalyst initiatives—projects or challenges that would most benefit from RTC’s national breadth of resources. Through these initiatives, RTC will directly support local and state partners, investing time, expertise and organizational resources in specific projects that are critical to catalyzing the completion of the Great American Rail-Trail. RTC is also enlisting the support of trail lovers across the country to demonstrate national enthusiasm for the Great American’s development.

Setting a goal to reach 1 million pledges in support of the cross-country trail, RTC is asking the public to pledge at greatamericanrailtrail.org.

“We know that it will take a significant investment of time, resources and energy to complete the Great American Rail-Trail—but it will be worth it. It will take the help of trail lovers and leaders to bring this vision to life,” said Kevin Mills, RTC’s vice president of policy. “Federal, state, local and private investment will all be needed to complete this project. To support the ongoing advocacy necessary to secure critical public resources, we hope everyone will be inspired to proudly pledge to show the widespread desire that exists for this trail.”

The Great American Rail-Trail is a signature project of RTC and the most ambitious in its portfolio of TrailNation™ projects—the organization’s initiative to encourage the rapid replication of regional trail networks across the country. The Great American was first envisioned at RTC in the late 1980s, and for decades has been an underpinning of the organization’s strategy to create a nationwide network of public trails.

Separately, New York State, which already offers a 353-mile long Erie Canalway from Buffalo to Albany, is in the process of filling the gaps for a bikeway that will extend the entire north-south expanse, from New York City to the  Canadian border.

To learn more about the Great American Rail-Trail and RTC and to view the preferred route, visit greatamericanrailtrail.org and follow @greatamericanrailtrail on Facebook and Instagram.

It will take public and private support to complete the Great American Rail-Trail. To learn more about how you can support the project and RTC’s national leadership to plan, organize and advocate for the trail, contact Alisa Borland, vice president of development at RTC, at alisa@railstotrails.org or 202.974.5126.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation’s largest trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong— dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines. Connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and @railstotrails on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

See also:

Biking the Delaware & Lehigh Trail, Showcased on Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Last Sojourn BikeTour

Rails-to-Trails Sojourn on Delaware-Lehigh Trail Showcases Repurposed Canal Towpath & History of Industrial Revolution

Rails-to-Trails Sojourn on the Delaware-Lehigh Trail: America’s Revolution Comes to Life at Washington Crossing

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy To Focus on TrailNation Advocacy for New Biking/Walking Trails

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