Somerset County Section

We have people who sign in at either the train station in Meyersdale or in Rockwood at the little visitor center. They’re from all over the country and some globally. Did I ever think that would happen? Absolutely not. I figured people would come from throughout the eastern United States. I didn’t think we’d have any more of a draw than that. But, pretty much every year they come from every state, and usually six, eight, foreign countries. We did something right. I mean, ‘we all’ – we collectively did something right.

– Hank Parke, September 26, 2017[1]

Just months before the Youghiogheny River Trail South’s ribbon-cutting, the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was established in Washington D.C. With concurrent projects happening in multiple regions, Pennsylvania would soon become a leading state in the rail-trail movement. By the time the trail opened in Ohiopyle State Park in 1986, the idea of converting abandoned railroad corridors into recreational hiking and biking trails was expanding on the state and national level.

The success of the 9-mile trail in Ohiopyle State Park convinced other western Pennsylvania communities that similar initiatives could boost their own local tourism and economy. Independent groups started building their own trail segments, which they envisioned could eventually create one long, interconnected route. The results were the ultimate link in a unified trail between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Trail projects were launched on both ends of the Youghiogheny River Trail. Yet one of the most difficult portions of what became the Great Allegheny Passage was the 41 miles[2] that meander through Somerset County.

The Somerset County segment was a grassroots collaboration between county leaders, local organizations, Pennsylvania state officials, private foundations, and the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) that took many years and millions of dollars to complete, mainly because building the trail required renovating huge railroad infrastructure – bridges, tunnels and viaducts – and adapting it for pedestrians and bicycles.

In October 1988, the National Park Service (NPS) launched a feasibility study of 70 miles of the abandoned Western Maryland Railway line from Confluence to Cumberland, Maryland, where a new hiking and biking trail would link to the existing Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath and reach Washington D.C.[3] The $20,000 study was funded by America’s Industrial Heritage Project (AIHP), a program created by U.S. Representative John Murtha to preserve industrial history and boost tourism across nine southwestern Pennsylvania counties, including Somerset. Congressman Murtha was instrumental in securing state and federal funding to continue the trail project at several stages, seeing it as a way to reinvigorate a region that suffered population and economic loss with the decline of the steel and coal industries.

Several county, state and federal agencies formed the Allegheny Highlands Trail Study Task Force to help guide the NPS in its analysis: the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce (SCCC), the Somerset Conservation District (SCD), the Somerset County Planning Commission, the Casselman River Watershed Association, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC).[4] The resulting report and plan would determine how to build the trail and who would manage it. The report used Ohiopyle State Park, which continued to attract more and more users, as a guide for possible operating and maintenance costs. It also gave credibility to the trail project.

The Somerset County Rails-to-Trails Association (SCRTA) was formed to guide the development of the trail. Founded by SCCC board member Hank Parke, SCCC Executive Director Greg Chapelli and attorney George Kaufman, the non-profit group attracted members from the towns and communities along the future trail route who also saw its potential.

You could smell it, you could taste it, you could feel it. This was going to be a really good thing. I mean, looking at the trail in Ohiopyle State Park, you could already see what was happening. The parking lot on the Ohiopyle side was full definitely every weekend. And a lot of time during the week, there were a lot of cars in that parking lot.

– Hank Parke, September 26, 2017[5]

SCRTA encountered several immediate challenges. This section of the Western Maryland Railway was not included in the initial 27 miles the WPC had acquired for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1978, so the association needed to seek funding to purchase the land, which was still owned by CSX Transportation (formerly Chessie System) and other private owners. The association also faced repairing structures that the Commonwealth had avoided very intentionally in not pursuing the entire line. The stretch included four major bridges, two viaducts and two tunnels, including the Big Savage Tunnel through Savage Mountain and the Salisbury Viaduct.

According to Hank Parke, who became SCCC executive director and SCRTA president, the group seriously underestimated the amount of work and money it would take to build the crushed limestone trail and renovate these railroad bridges and tunnels. It was certainly not the $10,000 per mile that a chamber of commerce executive in Wisconsin told Parke was the cost of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.[6] Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise.

So we sort of got started off a little bit on the wrong foot, thinking that it was only going to be 10,000 bucks a mile. Now, had we got started off on the right foot, I think we would have been incredibly discouraged…Well, being unrealistic got us moving forward. Had we been more realistic about what the price was, I think we would have just thrown up our hands and said, ‘Man, somebody else has got to figure this sucker out. It’s not going to be us.’” – Hank Parke, September 26, 2017[7]

The first hurdle was acquiring the land. CSX originally asked for a staggering $800,000 for the linear right-of-way from Confluence to Rockwood[8] but ultimately settled on a price of about $200,000 for the entire length in Somerset County.[9] This time, the WPC was not in a position to acquire title on behalf of Somerset County or the state, as it did for Ohiopyle State Park. “The financial and liability exposure for the right-of-way to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is well beyond our capabilities,” WPC director of acquisitions Tony Suppa wrote to CSX vice president J.L. Keisler in August 1989.[10] Although the NPS report initially stated the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources would assume ownership[11] that was no longer the case. Somerset County would now have to buy the railroad corridor itself.

SCRTA began raising the needed money for this extensive trail project, starting with the chamber of commerce’s aluminum and glass recycling program. By April 1990, proceeds from the sale of tons of glass and aluminum beverage cans had generated around $2,500 for the trail.[12] That small grassroots effort began to snowball; despite no guaranteed money from local, county or state government sources, the association eventually raised about $360,000 through private grants and donations to acquire the land,[13] including sizeable pledges from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment SCRTA also secured $975,000 for trail construction from Confluence to Rockwood and another $250,000 for the trail design for the Rockwood to Maryland stretch from AIHP, again with help from Congressman Murtha.[15] Another $67,085 came from a Recreational Improvement Rehabilitation Act grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs.[16]

Initially, the Somerset County Commissioners purchased a 17-mile section of the Western Maryland Railway corridor between Confluence and the Pennsylvania/Maryland border from CSX Transportation at the close of 1990.[17] As some of the land had been sold while other parts were not yet abandoned, CSX offered to help connect separated tracts. SCRTA members spent many hours unraveling the land ownership along the railroad right-of-way.

We did a lot of deed searching, which was really tedious, terrible stuff, as far as I’m concerned. That’s just absolutely the thing that, you know, send me through the briar patch and dragged naked, don’t ask me to do deed searching.
– Hank Parke, September 26, 2017[18]

The Somerset County Rails-to-Trails Association broke ground for the first section on April 24, 1992 – the group began with the stretch between Rockwood and Markleton, as it lacked major structures. The SCD, led by Chairman Dave Mankamyer, worked with the U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service to build the trail as economically as possible, while conservation district manager David Steele served as the trail’s project manager. Mankamyer continued to advocate for the trail’s progress once he was elected Somerset County Commissioner in 1991.

Much volunteer effort was needed to clean the former railroad right-of-way after it lay abandoned for a decade, allowing people to use it as their own personal garbage dump. According to Mankamyer, “Between Garrett and Rockwood, we hauled almost 100 tons of garbage off the trail – of junk and trash. It was a seven-mile trash heap.”[20] Public hearings were also held to gauge feedback from the community and, as with Ohiopyle, some neighboring landowners had to be convinced of the trail’s merit.

When we did a feasibility study and we had our public meetings, I was literally called a communist. The people that lived down in that area didn’t want any change in their life. And they were sure that this trail was going to be inhabited by derelicts and people who wanted to do them harm…Fortunately there was enough that agreed with us that it was not going to be that way. And once we built the Rockwood/Markleton section and people saw what it was and started using it that kind of slanted the public opinion back our way.

– Dave Mankamyer, June 2005[21]

The first seven miles of the Somerset County trail, from Rockwood to the Pinkerton Low Bridge at Markleton, finally opened on April 24, 1993, a year after the groundbreaking and nearly four years after the 1989 NPS feasibility study was completed. As SCRTA negotiated additional land acquisitions with CSX,[22] subsequent trail sections fell into place over the next decade, starting with the Rockwood to Garrett stretch, which opened on June 4, 1994.

By early 1995, the trail covered the 14 miles between Markleton and Garrett, with Rockwood serving as a mid-way point. SCRTA and the Somerset County Commissioners hired Simone and Jaffe Landscape Architecture of Lancaster to develop a master development plan for the trail, which was funded by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission (SPHPC).[23] SCRTA anticipated the trail to reach the Youghiogheny River Trail in Confluence – another 15 miles away – and the Maryland border.

That same year, a trail summit for the groups from Pittsburgh to Cumberland held at Hidden Valley Ski Resort led to the creation of the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) – a coalition of seven individual trail groups in western Pennsylvania and Maryland, including SCRTA – that comprised the future Great Allegheny Passage. Each of the member groups would focus on their individual trails but collectively promote an interconnected Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. corridor.

After the ATA spent about a year organizing the new coalition and building some trail portions, it elected a nominating committee, which asked Linda McKenna Boxx, chair of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, to become ATA president. She agreed to a second term as president of ATA, with Lincoln “Linc” Van Sickel, chairman of the newly created Somerset County Parks and Recreation Board, serving as ATA vice president. The two worked as a team on the ATA from 1998 to 2009. During that time, Boxx led the creation of a unified trail system and pursued state and federal funding instrumental for completing the future bridge, tunnel and viaduct projects needed in Somerset County. In 1996, Van Sickle was hired as trail construction coordinator, responsible for several huge projects, including the Salisbury Viaduct renovation.

Linda and I and a couple other guys usually went to Harrisburg two or three times for meetings with the legislatures and so forth. And Linda, of course, was the catalyst for the whole thing. I mean, there were a lot of people that were involved, but Linda came along at the right time and the right place. I can’t say enough about Linda, [her] ability and know-how and just plain work – a lot of work.
-Lincoln Van Sickel, August 2005[24]

At this point, however, the Somerset County trail planners began to run into the structure challenges that dissuaded the Commonwealth and the WPC from acquiring the entire Western Maryland Railway in the beginning. Multiple bridges comprised the route, along with two railroad viaducts and the Pinkerton and Big Savage Tunnels. Yet the ultimate vision of connecting Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. kept the trail project moving forward.

Funding also remained an obstacle. By summer 1997, trail development had reached an impasse as SCRTA and the Allegheny Trail Alliance waited for the U.S. Congress to decide whether to continue funding recreational trails under the National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act (NEXTEA),[25] but the groups remained confident they could continue working on the trail with other funding sources, even if it took longer to accomplish their goal. Federal funding for recreational trails revived with the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in June 1998. Congressman Murtha, who was once again instrumental in pressing Congress to reauthorize federal trail funding, supported a $6 million allocation for the trail as a high priority project, Delta Development assisted ATA in getting the funds released.

1998 proved to be a productive one for Somerset County trail development, with key structural projects either completed or launched. Restoration of the 1911 Salisbury Viaduct near Meyersdale began in April. At 1,908 feet long and 101 feet high, the viaduct was the longest and tallest bridge on the trail. It also spanned both the Casselman River and U.S. Route 219. The $1.3 million project used federal money administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) plus state funding to convert the steel structure into a signature structure along the GAP.[26] Delta Mining, a local surface coal mining company based in Grantsville, Maryland, was hired to remove the rails from the trestle. The work was completed in one night, one rail at a time, as former Delta employee Dale Schultz remembered:[27]

I was employed by a local surface mining coal company. The “load out” facility was close to the viaduct. The railroad contacted the coal company to see if they would, as a favor, be interested in pulling off the rails. The railroad employees prepared the rail and I operated the high lift to pull them off the viaduct. I pulled the entire rail length at one time, the right side first, then the left.

– Dale Schultz, February 3, 2020 [28]

The careful removal of track from the viaduct gave Van Sickel quite the scare:

One of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life, [was when] we got the rails picked up and the ties out of there. They actually backed semi-trucks – flatbed semis – backwards across that viaduct on the old railroad tracks, backed over the ties and then they picked up and loaded the ties one at a time and the truck kept going forward. And then after they’d get that load out, they’d back another one. I don’t know how anybody in their right mind would – and there’s no guardrail. I mean, if you go off that thing, you’re dead.

– Lincoln Van Sickel, June 7, 2017[29]

By the time construction bids came in, the budget for the Salisbury Viaduct renovation had exceeded the money available for the project.[30] The ATA secured additional funding, requesting that PennDOT transfer $562,400 of soon-to-expire grant money across districts, from the Rivers of Steel trail project in Allegheny County with that trail group’s permission. After several delays, construction finally finished that December and the Salisbury Viaduct quietly reopened as a part of the Somerset County trail in February 1999.

The trail grew piece-by-piece over time, next with a 2.7-mile section from the Salisbury Viaduct to Garrett.[31] By 1999, the route stretched about 18 miles around the Pinkerton neck, through Markleton and Rockwood, to south of Garrett. Subsequent builds included another 2.8 miles from the Pinkerton High Bridge to Fort Hill, 6.5 miles between Fort Hill and Confluence and 1.6 miles from the Salisbury Viaduct to the Meyersdale train station. The cost of the section from the viaduct to the station was estimated at $374,000, with the design work funded through PennDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program.[32] The Somerset County Commissioners had also purchased the long-abandoned 1912 Western Maryland Railway train station in Meyersdale, which the Meyersdale Area Historical Society restored and continues to operate as a museum and visitor center along the trail. During 2004-2005, several additional sections – about 12 miles total – were built to fill in the trail between the Maryland state line and the Salisbury Viaduct.

Eventually, the trail planners would have to face restoring the 3,294-foot long Big Savage Tunnel near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, an enormous project essential to continuing the trail through the mountain. The task fell to Brett Hollern, a Somerset County planning staff member hired as full-time trail coordinator after Van Sickel retired in March 1999, and Big Savage Tunnel project manager, Rolland “Rhody” Rhodomoyer, who enjoyed a nearly 40-year career with PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Initially, the massive project was estimated to cost about $3 million, but contractors discovered serious structural problems once they began work on the 1911 tunnel, ballooning the budget far beyond what was allocated in the state capital budget. Groundwater from Big Savage Mountain continually seeped into the tunnel, causing cracks in the concrete; the north portal collapsed in 1996. Mankamyer described Big Savage as, “the mother of all obstacles.”

You couldn’t get in. The water was two and three feet deep; there was a stream coming out of it. I did walk through it. I put on hip boots to walk. The water was three feet deep in places in there. We had flashlights and there’s stuff falling, there’s stuff hanging out from the ceiling, and water kept trickling down everywhere. It is like a half a mile long or something. It’s a scary thing to walk through.
– Lincoln Van Sickel, June 7, 2017[33]

In reality, nearly $12 million was needed to rehabilitate the unstable tunnel with a new concrete liner. Construction finally began in February 2002, with Big Savage Tunnel opening to trail traffic in April 2006.

SCRTA ran into a legal issue when it came to restoring the Keystone Viaduct over Flaugherty Creek near Glade City. Somerset County acquired a dozen crossings from CSX Transportation when it purchased the Western Maryland Railway right-of-way, including that structure, but the company never filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC),  meaning all those structures were in danger of being demolished. Governor Tom Ridge stepped in to prohibit the PUC from ordering the bridges torn down, but the legal battle waged on for several years, delaying the Keystone Viaduct rehabilitation until spring 2003.[34]

PennDot added to the woes of this $1.5 million project, insisting that two piers and 3 spans of the original viaduct be removed to better accommodate State Route #2006 (Glade City Road.) A new 910-foot curved span was designed and installed, the bridge and viaduct received new decking and fencing.  A unique aspect of the concrete deck was that it was tinted with iron oxide, intended to match the rust which would inevitably be deposited from the viaduct’s overhead truss girders.[35] The Keystone Viaduct reopened in September 2003.

SCRTA was also presented a unique opportunity to repurpose for the trail an historic cast and wrought-iron bridge in Summit Township slated to be demolished by the PUC. Built in 1871, the Bollman Bridge served the Pittsburgh Division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad until 1910 when it was relocated from Wills Creek in Bedford County for farm access. Plans to again move the 81-foot long bridge – this time to Scratch Hill Road – launched in early 2003, but the $350,000 project was continuously delayed due to permitting issues as the bridge spanned CSX’s operating railroad line. The process to remove and dismantle the 30-ton frame and rebuild the structure three miles away finally began in 2006. The Bollman Bridge reopened in late 2007, filling another major gap on the Somerset County trail.

In 2015, Somerset County was finally able to renovate the century-old Pinkerton Tunnel, with major support from the ATA. The 1912 Western Maryland Railway tunnel had remained closed since the railroad’s abandonment in the 1970s and was steadily deteriorating. In the interim, the trail had been detoured about 1.5 miles along the Pinkerton Horn – a peninsula in the Casselman River.[36] It cost $2 million to install a new steel liner in the 850-foot-long tunnel.

With the opening of the Pinkerton Tunnel in September 2015, the Somerset County portion of the Great Allegheny Passage was complete, covering a total of 41 miles from Confluence to the Maryland border. The hiking and biking route passed through many small towns in Somerset County that were left behind when the Western Maryland Railway was abandoned, including Meyersdale, Garrett, Rockwood, Markleton and Harnedsville. The new foot and bicycle traffic on the limestone trail brought new visitors and economy to these towns, which served not only as rest stops along travelers’ journeys, but also destinations in themselves.

I think it’s something unique in itself and it happens to be right here. I don’t think some people that may live in the town that it passes through realizes what its potential is when you’ve got the amount of people coming through. These towns aren’t necessarily going to be booming like they were with industry, but it’s really helping to revitalize the communities and bringing something into Somerset County that, without it, very rarely we’d see. And it also compliments what’s here already with the resorts and the rivers and the mountains and everything very well.
Brett Hollern, September 2005[37]

Author: Jennifer Sopko


[1] Eric Lidji interview with Hank Parke. September 26, 2017.

[2] The Western Maryland Railway mileage through Somerset County measured 40.99, without the Pinkerton Bypass, according to the Western Maryland Railway Valuation Maps.

[3] “Recently, the federal America’s Industrial Heritage Project allocated $20,000 to fund a National Park Service feasibility study of that proposed section, which tentatively is being called the Allegheny Highlands Trail. The study began in October and should be completed in February.” – Bob Batz, Jr. “Big extension pushed for popular Yough trail.” Pittsburgh Press. November 13, 1988.

[4] A memorandum of understanding establishing the task force was signed in August 1988. “Signing the memorandum were: Robert Gift, National Park Service; Ken Burkholder, Bureau of State Parks; Dick Ely, Somerset Planning Commission; Hank Parke, Somerset Chamber of Commerce; Dave Mankamyer, Somerset Conservation District; and George Roberts, Casselman River Watershed Association. Representatives from the Rails to Trails Conservancy and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, two other groups involved, were unable to send people to sign the memorandum.” – Brian Young. “Rail-trail project steps ahead.” Daily American. August 4, 1988.

[5] Eric Lidji interview with Hank Parke. September 26, 2017.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Barbara White Stack. “Tying train to new bike, hike trail is proposed.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 3, 1988. Kirk Swauger. “Funds enough for trail right-of-way.” Tribune-Democrat. December 12, 1990.

[9]“The total right of way, excluding that sold and not abandoned, contains approximately 450 acres. I am willing to recommend sale to Somerset County Chamber of Commerce by quitclaim deed for $200,000. In order to cooperate and assist the County, I am willing to grant an option for a term of 6 months for a consideration of $1 to allow the County sufficient time to secure the funds to acquire the right of way.” – Letter from CSX Transportation (J.L. Kiesler, Vice President, Property Services) to Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (John Oliver, President), July 24, 1989. Kirk Swauger. “Funds enough for trail right-of-way.” Tribune-Democrat. December 12, 1990.

[10] Letter from Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (Director of Land Acquisition Anthony Suppa) to CSX Transportation (J.L. Kiesler), August 4, 1989. The WPC would continue to assist in the trail project in other capacities, however, as Suppa explained further in his letter: “Nevertheless, the Conservancy is keenly interested in seeing that his right-of-way be developed into a hiking/biking trail in the near future. We are aiding the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and the respective agencies with technical assistance and consulting with them on a regular basis.”

[11] “Under the plan, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and Maryland Department of Natural Resources will assume legal ownership of the railroad property, either as an outright gift from the CSX Corp., or through direct purchase by a public land trust, such as the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy or the Trust for Public Lands.” – Jim Provance. “Bike-hike trail report.” Herald-Standard. May 10, 1989. The Allegheny Highlands Trail Study Task Force, Robert F Gift and Paul R. Labovitz, National Park Service, Trails Conservation Assistance Program, Mid-Atlantic Region, Environmental and Recreation Assistance Division. The Allegheny Highlands Trail Feasibility Study. November 1989.

[12] The Daily American, April 21, 1990. Eric Lidji interview with Hank Parke. September 26, 2017.

[13] Debbie Meyer. “Somerset to fill its link of Allegheny biking trail.” Cumberland Times-News. August 31, 1992.

[14] SCRTA sent out 60 solicitation letters for funds to acquire the Western Maryland Railway corridor and received nine financial pledges as a result: $150,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, $119,500 from the Heinz Foundation, $15,000 from Somerset Trust Co., $7,500 from the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, $45,00 from the Robert Thompson Foundation, $1,000 from the Somerset Rotary, $1,000 from the Somerset Exchange Club, $1,000 from the Somerset Jaycees and $500 from the Roof Garden Runners. Kirk Swauger. “Funds enough for trail right-of-way.” Tribune-Democrat. December 12, 1990.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] The Somerset County Commissioners, who accepted the deed at a special meeting, would hold the title to the 17.1 miles of railroad property. “After several months of negotiating on the price, it was agreed that the Rails to Trails group would pay $136,876 to CSX for the right-of-way to the property.” Bobby Black. “Somerset County gets ‘Rails to Trails’ Deed.” Daily American. January 5, 1991.

[18] Eric Lidji interview with Hank Parke. September 26, 2017.

[19] The Allegheny Highlands Trail Feasibility Study also included the remainder of the Western Maryland line to Cumberland, Maryland. “The development of the trail is divided into three phases. Cost associates with these phases are $765,000 for Phase One (Confluence-Rockwood, PA), $463,000 for Phase Two (PA/MD State Line to Cumberland, MD), and $1,372,000 to Phase Three (Rockwood, PA-PA/MD State Line). The Allegheny Highlands Trail Study Task Force, Robert F Gift and Paul R. Labovitz, National Park Service, Trails Conservation Assistance Program, Mid-Atlantic Region, Environmental and Recreation Assistance Division. The Allegheny Highlands Trail Feasibility Study. November 1989.

[20] Paul g Wiegman interview with Dave Mankamyer. June 2005.

[21] Paul g Wiegman interview with Dave Mankamyer. June 2005.

[22] “The county has completed a sales agreement with CSX Transportation at $500 an acre for abandoned railroad right-of-way from Rockwood to Meyersdale… CSX recently notified Somerset officials and other municipalities of its intent to sell more than nine miles of roadbed from Meyersdale to Sand Patch. ‘We have already bought from Sand Patch almost to the Maryland line,’ Mr. Mankamyer said. ‘We are presently in negotiation with CSX to fill in that gap from Meyersdale all the way to the Maryland line.’” – Debbie Meyer. “Somerset to fill its link of Allegheny biking trail.” Cumberland Times-News. August 31, 1992. “The parcels of land comprise 20 miles of railroad line and are the last two significant sections of the Allegheny Highlands Trail…Rails to Trails has agreed to pay $141,100 for 262 acres of CSX property between the Maryland border and Meyersdale and $59,319 for 188 acres between Meyersdale and Rockwood, county solicitor Kim Gibson said.” – “More rails-to-trails land purchased.” Herald-Mail. September 16, 1992. “The Somerset County Commissioners have acquired the remainder of the former Western Maryland Railroad bed from Garrett to the Maryland line, the only portion of the trail that had not been previously acquired. The consummated purchase includes the viaduct north of Meyersdale over the Casselman River and the CSX Railroad, the train station in Meyersdale, the viaduct at Glade City and the Big Savage tunnel near the Maryland line.” – Paul Fuller. “Pa. obtains final tract for new trail.” Cumberland Sunday Times. March 21, 1993.

[23] Brian Whipkey. “Updates are given on Highlands Trail.” Daily American. January 26, 1995. According to Karen Post, an administrator at SPHPC, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission was established in November 1988 in the Department of the Interior under Public Law 100-698. SPHPC was established to carry out and implement America’s Industrial Heritage Project, known as AIHP. SPHPC’s charge was to establish the means to recognize, preserve, promote, interpret and make available to the public the heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania.

[24] Paul g Wiegman interview with Lincoln Van Sickel. August 2005.

[25] Vicki Rock. “Cost of completing hiking biking trail put at $22.6 million” Daily American. June 4, 1997. Although the NEXTEA bill (H.R. 1268) was introduced to the 105th session of Congress in April 1997, it was never enacted.

[26] “The 1,900-foot-long viaduct, built in the early 1900s, will be converted from a wooden railroad bridge into a concrete trail bridge at a cost of $1.3 million. That includes $1.059 million in federal funds, matched by $152,000 from the state and $90,333 from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission and Southern Alleghenies Conservancy.” – Pattie Booze Cramer. “Work begins on another trail link.” Daily American. April 17, 1998. See also Eric Lidji interview with Lincoln Van Sickel. June 7, 1917.

[27] Jennifer Sopko interview with Dale Schultz. March 3, 2020.

[28] Jennifer Sopko email correspondence with Dale Schultz. February 3, 2020.

[29] Eric Lidji interview with Lincoln Van Sickel. June 7, 2017.

[30] “A $1 million federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficient Act grant was awarded earlier for the work on the Salisbury Viaduct.” –Vicki Rock. “Cost of completing hiking, biking trail put at $22.6 million.” Daily American. June 4, 1997.

[31] This trail segment was funded by $229,600 in state funds and $35,983 from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission and Southern Alleghenies Conservancy. – Pattie Booze Cramer. “Work begins on another trail link.” Daily American. April 17, 1998.

[32] “Those associated with the local hiking and biking trail are also hopeful that, in the near future, work may also begin to extend the trail toward Meyersdale and the recently-renovated Western Maryland Railroad Station. ‘ The engineering’s being done right now for the piece between the viaduct and train station,’ [Somerset County Planning Commission Director Brad] Zearfoss stated. This design work, being performed by Killam Associates of Somerset, is being funded through PennDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program, he said. The estimated cost of completing this section of trail is approximately $374,000, according to Zearfoss.” – Jennifer Baer. “Salisbury Viaduct now open for hiking, biking; engineering work underway on next section.” New Republic. February 18, 1999.

[33] Eric Lidji interview with Lincoln Van Sickel. June 7, 2017.

[34] “’There is a stumbling block in that section – the Keystone Viaduct,’ Zearfoss said…Somerset County obtained the crossing, along with 11 others, in a quit-claim deed from CSX Transportation. But the railroad company didn’t file a notice with the Public Utilities Commission to abandon the structures. The state Department of Transportation recommended the Keystone Viaduct be removed and a single-span bridge be built. The PUC held hearings on what to do about the structures, but the governor ordered a moratorium prohibiting the PUC from ordering the bridges to be torn down.” – Vicki Rock. “It was a year of accomplishment on the trail.” Daily American. October 23, 1998.

[35] Larry Walsh. Bridging the Gap. Keystone Viaduct in Somerset County brings Great Allegheny Passage closer to completion.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 3, 2003.

[36] “…an agreement has been made with the Mount Davis Development Corporation for a lease on a one-half mile right-of-way around the Pinkerton tunnel in Upper Turkeyfoot Township. The commissioners gave $1 for the lease. Because of the high cost, the Pinkerton tunnel is too expensive to renovate. The lease will provide a place for the trial to skirt the tunnel.” – Paul Fuller. “Area hiking, biking trail receives another boost.” ­Cumberland Times-News. October 7, 1992.

[37] Paul g Wiegman interview with Brett Hollern. September 2005.