One of the great new fads across America today is the Rails to Trails concept for exercise, and getting back to nature. This type of entertainment is ecologically and environmentally correct and it provides a logical cause to recycle unused rail lines. This is becoming a national past time. What does this have to do with the Rowlesburg Revitalization Committee, you ask?

The good news is that the Preston County Rails to Trails Committee is working to complete a trail between Kingwood and Rowlesburg on land presently owned by CSX Railroad.

The Preston County portion of the Rails to Trails Committee has been working diligently to reach some compromise with CSX and Allegheny Wood Products to help fulfill this dream ­ but it is costly. Estimates of costs to buy this property to complete the trail from Albright to Rowlesburg reach millions of dollars. Naturally, these goals cannot be met by having raffles or bake sales. It will require grants, cooperation between the corporations and the committee and overcoming yards and yards of red tape. It appears to many of the people who have been working on this project that success is possible but it will require mega amounts of pressure placed on politicians, both national and local in order to come up with the funding.
Anyone who has driven Route 72 or "the river road", as it is sometimes called, knows that during any season the scenery is an artist's paradise. The view of the rambling Cheat River, whether high enough for whitecaps or just meandering through the mountains, is breathtaking.

Autumn brings an unbelievable array of fall colors with the reds, yellows and oranges blinding you as the sun reflects off the water; during winter this drive can be like a crystal palace, especially after an ice storm. After a heavy snow the trees glisten with the pristine whiteness of an angel's feathers.

A trip to Rowlesburg in the summertime can cause you to pull over and watch the rafters or kayakers as they test their skills in the temperamental waters of the Cheat. This describes the trip to Rowlesburg on Route 72.

The rail trail, of course, will be on the opposite side of the river (the Manheim side), which will provide an unblemished view of the Cheat River and the surrounding mountains. On the rail trail one can stop at anytime to view the scenery and enjoy this gift of naturewithout endangering the flow of traffic.

This map shows the Rail Trail which has been completed and the portion yet to be completed between Albright and Rowlesburg. The bold black line is the Preston County portion that extends 19 miles into Monongalia County and has been completed. The blue line is the proposed trail from Reedsville to near Albright. The green line is the Kern Valley railroad (formerly the West Virginia Northern) which goes into Tunnelton. The yellow portion from Albright to Rowlesburg is the area that will benefit us the most.

Thanks to Gloria Dean and JoAnn Sisler,
Greater Downtown Rowlesburg
has worked very hard dressing up the entrance
to the park and the main portion of town with blooming plants to brighten the outlook of residents and visitors alike. Former residents are beginning to migrate back home and are establishing summer residences which some say may become permanent. 

This project can be the much needed transfusion of new life in our beloved childhood community. The completion of the rail trail from Albright to Rowlesburg will provide a necessary market for new business such as an eating establishment, housing, (bed and breakfast or small motel), bicycle shop for sales and repairs, and, some form of entertainment for the visitors to our community. The residents have already learned that special events such as the Labor Day Ox Roast bring thousands of visitors to our beautiful park by the riverside and events such as this could be planned for the entire summer season, thereby providing jobs and income for the local residents.

Written by Shirley Cook Hartley

Rails to Trails Routes in Preston County