Written in partnership with David Maher, President of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway Friends Group
The Friends of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway are excited to announce that they have recently joined the non-profit Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council (CVRTC) as a working sub-committee focused on the ongoing planning and future development of the proposed South Mountain Trolley Greenway. This partnership with the CVRTC provides the Greenway initiative with a solid and respected organizational structure and enables our growing Friends organization with the capability to fundraise and continue public outreach. After the initial creation of the Friends of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway in the Spring of 2021, the group began to research and seek out options to establish an all-important non-profit status. This status would help the Friends grow as a prominent partner in the future funding and management of the proposed Greenway. Most importantly, at this early stage, it would provide us the capability to aggressively fundraise in support of the trail project. In July, volunteers with the Friends approached the CVRTC Board to explore potential fiscal sponsorship status with the CVRTC. Seeing the obvious parallels between the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail and the proposed South Mountain Trolley Greenway, which would follow the former Cumberland Valley Railroad: Dillsburg Branch route, the CVRTC Board graciously agreed to absorb the Greenway initiative within their organization’s structure.
Where is the trail planned and what opportunities does it have to connect the region?
With multiple potential connections to regional and inter-state trails such as the 9/11 Memorial Trail, PA State Bicycle Route J, the Mason-Dixon Trail, the Yellow Breeches Creek Water Trail, and the Appalachian Trail, the proposed South Mountain Trolley Greenway would provide an opportunity for the expansion and growth of a regional trail system in eastern Cumberland and northern York counties; areas where increased development pressure make opportunities for public access open space more and more difficult. Click here to see the proposed route. The Greenway would also help increase bicyclist and pedestrian traffic in the historic and walkable commercial downtowns of Dillsburg and Mechanicsburg, which is critical as both communities work to revitalize their downtown economies and enhance their overall quality of life. Rural communities and landscapes in Monroe and Carroll townships will also have opportunities to benefit from the Greenway, as passive recreation development such as this enables a community to add value without having to build upon valuable agricultural and open space and continuously stretch roads, sewer, and water infrastructure to service them. Existing businesses in the rural townships, such as Talking Breads, Cold Springs Inn & Brewery, Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouse, Oak Grove Farm, Turkeyfoot Nursery, and the Williams Grove Flea Market, to name a few, all have the potential to market and cater to future “trail traffic”. Finally, the Greenway offers the potential for education and interpretation of the historic, natural, and agricultural landscapes the trail would pass through; instilling a stronger appreciation of the South Mountain landscape.
What Partners have been involved with the Greenway?
SMP recognized the regional potential of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway very early on, particularly the Greenway’s potential to preserve, conserve, promote, and enhance regional landscape resources that all help create a ‘sense of place’ and an elevated quality of life for residents and visitors. SMP provided strategic connections and facilitated conversations with regional partners when the Greenway project was launched by a local volunteer community advocate. SMP also provided early marketing and branding support, as well as technical assistance and guidance for state and local grant applications. The group has a lot of additional partners support including; Silver Spring Township, Mechanicsburg Borough, Carroll Township, Dillsburg Borough, Cumberland and York counties, the York County Economic Alliance, the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, the PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources, York County Community Foundation, York County Rail Trail Authority, Alpha Consulting Engineering, the consulting firm of Buchart Horn, and countless members of the public who have supported the Greenway either through monetary donations or by simply spreading the word with their friends and neighbors.
How can folks get involved?
The Friends of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway plan to continue to support the completion of the all-important trail feasibility study, while also continuing to ramp up community awareness, fundraising to support trail planning, future development, and maintenance and management. For anyone interested in participating, feel free to sign up for our email list to stay in contact, follow the Greenway on social media (Facebook or Instagram, at this point), make a charitable donation to our fundraising effort by visiting our page at https://www.cvrtc.org/south-mountain-trolley-greenway, or by simply emailing us directly at email@example.com. If you think you are a property owner of a portion of the historic rail corridor and are open to the idea of allowing the trail to cross your property, please let us know!