Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bike Trails in Marianna, Scenery Hill, Cokeburg, Pennsylvania Washington County

I remember being a young girl and gathering coal off the railroad tracks when the train would roll by our house in Scenery Hill, Pa, never having known from where the train came, Marianna. My family picked berries along the tracks, and took long walks to Bentleyville on the tracks to get bread butter and eggs.  Never in my craziest dreams as a young girl would I have ever believed this could ever be a bike trail that could carry me past my old home (recently torn down), and I used to dream a lot along those tracks where I’d go to get away from home life and feel free for a time. It would mean a lot to those of us who yearn for new beginnings and positive change to come to our small communities, in a county where we feel left out.

Trees tangled with grapevine and thick prickly bushes have invaded much of the unused railroad line for the past 25 years. Beneath the rusty, unused, and broken line could very well be a new 7.5 mile bike trail to carry Washington county residents from Marianna through Scenery Hill to Cokeburg Junction, and beyond. Imagine a county where it’s residents are healthier due to more biking opportunities, a huge decline in the drug epidemic because there’s something more to do than sit behind a computer desk, a boost in local jobs because of new businesses growth along the trail, like cafes, unique art shops, history centers, small mom and pop stores. Imagine if the trail went further into other towns.

Nature herself would always the main attraction; she is the one who usually inspires people to come off their front porches and into the wild world. Here they can better themselves through healthy thinking and healthy bodies via exercise and peaceful sounds and settings. Bicyclists, bird-watchers, photographers, kayakers, fisherman, runners, artists, and many others would come not just because they want to “get away” and experience a quiet place or have fun, they would come to feel a sense of pride and belonging in a community or in nature.

The old line runs a short distance along Daniel’s Run tributary and Pigeon Creek tributary. It runs along farms and quaint homes and family-run businesses. It runs along hundreds of varieties of wildflowers and trees, and is home for many insects and wild animals. It would be the same line that carried coal out of the area for miles that our grandfathers and fathers worked hard to obtain from the ground. This route is a perfect start for a new bike trail in Washington County (The county currently has approximately 21miles of bike trails between the Mingo and Montour trail). We need more recreational opportunities. And I see this route as a good place to start.

I hope we start talking about it more. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.