Grand History Trail
From Gettysburg to Maryland
On October 30, 2014 a GHT Economic Summit meeting was held at the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) with key leaders and business owners in the Gettysburg community. Don Gogniat, the founding influence for the GHT, and Karl Knoch from the RTC, presented information about the GHT and the economic benefits that similar trails have created in other areas of Pennsylvania. HABPI offered to lead an effort to conduct a trail feasibility study to find a route for the GHT from Gettysburg to Emmitsburg.
HABPI conducted a large group meeting on January 29, 2015 with local business leaders and local elected officials to discuss the GHT and the desire to build the Adams County portion from Gettysburg to the Maryland border near Emmitsburg. Participants then broke into four smaller groups and were asked to draw on maps of Adams County, showing where they thought a good route for the trail should be located. A small-group leader worked with each group, taking notes and recording ideas. Two weeks later the small-group leaders and a few other key people met to discuss the recommendations that came out of the first meeting. This group became our 'Steering Committee' and was comprised of one representative from Cumberland Township, Freedom Township, Liberty Township, the Borough of Gettysburg, the Lutheran Seminary, the Adams County Office of Planning and Development, and the Gettysburg National Military Park, along with board members for HABPI.
One of the key recommendations of this 'Steering Committee' was to build a trail alongside roadways within the municipal right-of-way (ROW) for the roadway. This would minimize the need for using private land but in cases where the ROW was not sufficient, trail easements on private land along the roadway would be needed. Another recommendation was to try and use part of Marsh Creek on a possible route and there was a recommendation to find an off-road route using farm fields and rural land. The Steering Committee (SC) evaluated all recommendations and developed about 10 possible routes. To evaluate the possible routes, the SC Chairman, with help from drivers, videotaped all the road segments in each route. A sample video is available here. The SC then viewed the videotapes and evaluated the roadways during a series of meetings. The SC met at least eight times over a period of ten months. Many of the SC members had lived in Adams County for a decade or more and several rode their bicycles on the roads being evaluated so their intent was to reduce the amount of road evaluation that would be needed by a professional firm hired to conduct a trail feasibility study.
Timing was good as Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) was undertaking a trail study to update and improve their trail system. The prospect of finding a feasible trail route from Gettysburg to Maryland seemed to have a good chance of succeeding, especially with the cooperation of the GNMP. In addition, Frederick County, MD was starting to review their trail plans with the intent of developing more trails in the county. In September 2015 a group of bicycle riders from York rode the proposed route for the GHT, stopping in Gettysburg and other key locations along the route, speaking with local and state government officials whenever possible.
In 2016, Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) submitted a grant application to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for funding to conduct the trail feasibility study. Unfortunately, HABPI was not able to secure matching funds and coupled with the limited funds available to non-profit organizations, a grant was not approved.
In 2017 HABPI partnered with the Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority (GARA) to seek funding for the trail feasibility study. In December 2017 the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) awarded a grant for half the cost. To match the DCNR grant, money was received from the Adams County Greenspace Grant Program, Destination Gettysburg, the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Adams Electric Cooperative, Thrivent Financial, and numerous individual donors. A professional firm with expertise in conducting trail feasibility studies will be contracted in early 2018 to begin the work. Here is a map of the study area.