The Montour Trail Council is an original member of the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) and has since partnered with other trails in the Pittsburgh region. Established in 1989, the Montour Trail Council envisioned a trail along the Montour Railroad right-of-way, a coal transport spur abandoned in 1984 that stretched from Coraopolis to Clairton. Today, the trail comprises about 60 miles with a main line and several branches in Allegheny and Washington counties, making it the longest suburban rail–trail in the nation. In 2017, the Commonwealth designated the Montour as Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year.
The Montour Trail Council is a 501(c)(3) organization created by a dedicated group of volunteers and, to this day, is an all-volunteer effort with no paid staff. The MTC’s founding members and inaugural officers were Stan Sattinger as president; Dino Angelici, vice president; Peter Kohnke, secretary; and Jack Swisher, treasurer. For more information on the founders, visit: https://montourtrail.org/founding-fathers/
Founding President Stan Sattinger discussed the MTC’s early history at the Council’s 30th-anniversary celebration in 2019: https://montourtrail.org/wpSupport/events/Sattinger%20Master%20Edit%20WEB%20Smallest.MP4
The history of the Montour Trail Council: https://montourtrail.org/about/
A “Then and Now” video on the trail produced and narrated by founding board member Tim Killmeyer: youtube.com/watch?v=2MejHXuW1qc
Over the years, the Montour Trail Council’s efforts have concentrated on acquiring rights of ways, building infrastructure, paving pathways, engineering and rehabilitating bridges, joining communities, and building trailheads/access areas. Future efforts relate to closing gaps in the southeast section — a total of less than five miles! This requires equal parts fundraising, engineering, construction, and annual maintenance. To sustain these efforts, the Council receives revenue from utility crossings and a lease from a railroad line along the trail’s Westland Branch. Revenue from shale gas deposits, annual memberships, grants and gifts also help pay the bills.
The Montour Trail Council’s primary fundraising event is the annual Tour the Montour, a family fun bicycle ride held on the third Saturday of September. In 2019, the Tour, with several distances ranging from six to 62 miles, attracted about 500 participants. More information on MTC events can be found at: https://montourtrail.org/events/signature-events/
The Montour Trail’s friends groups, which include the Airport area, Bethel, Cecil, Fort Cherry, Peters, South Hills and Westland, are responsible for maintenance and beautification of their sections of the trail: https://montourtrail.org/help-us/friends-groups/
In regards to the Great Allegheny Passage and the Allegheny Trail Alliance, the Montour Trail Council has generated funds to help complete the GAP into Pittsburgh, and raised millions of dollars for trail development along both the Montour and GAP. The Montour Trail and its connectors link directly with the Pittsburgh International Airport, making the city a convenient starting point for long distance hiking and bicycle-touring between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.
For additional information about the Montour Trail, visit its website: https://montourtrail.org/
2020 MTC Officers:
Ned Williams, President
Phillip Torrez, Vice President
Deb Thompson, Secretary
Braden Ditch, Treasurer
Author: Reed Hertzler with contributions from the MTC