Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Trail Less Traveled

I didn't get the Job.  

Oh well, their loss.  You who are my few but faithful blog readers, know the sorts of things we like to do for fun, and only a part of it is in Hendricks County.  The kids are I will just have to explore the entire state on our own.  Anyway, some of you asked, so this was my submission:  

My children love to go outside when the weather is nice.  And they love to run.  But it's rare that I can find a safe place where I can just let them run.  Freely.  That's why we fell in love with the B&O trail.  It's clean, with native wild flowers and shady well established trees line the path, and there is plenty of room to run.  There are motion sensors at the road crossings, that cue lights flashing so that cars know there is a pedestrian approaching.  I am greatly comforted knowing boys are not in danger of getting hit by a car with only other walkers, runners, cyclists, and the occasional horseback rider. 
Here in Brownsburg we have preserved a piece of history.  In 1828, the B&O railroad  broke ground in Baltimore, and built its railroad through the wilderness of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, across the Ohio River.  They took a while to get further west.  In 1880, the Indianapolis, Decateur, and Springfield Railroad completed a track that ran from Indianapolis to Springfield, IL.   It became part of the B&O company in 1927.  B&O merged with Chesapeake & Ohio in 1963.  But in 1987, both of them were bought out by CSX.  Due to the decreased amount of railway traffic over the years after WWII, the railroad eventually abandoned it sometime between 1989 and 1993.  In 1994, the B&O Trail Association (BOTA) began working in conjunction with Hendricks County Trail Development Inc. to convert this abandoned line to a rail-trail.  At this time, the Trail Association is working on getting a trail together that would run from Indianapolis through 5 counties to Montezuma, Indiana.
It has been a long difficult road for the BOTA to convert the trail, because the railroad tracks were originally built with a mix of land grants, purchased lands, and rented lands.  Determining who owns what is an expensive and time consuming process. These records are easily over a hundred years old, people have moved on, and no one remembers who originally owned the land. Neighboring property owners and the railroads both may have been using property they didn't own.  But the BOTA is buying up pieces chunk by chunk. So the B&O Trail Association has a lot of fundraisers to raise funds.   The Hendricks County branch of the B&O Trail was able to start construction in 2010, and though it's not yet complete, each new event brings it that much closer to completion.  Right now the trail runs from 267 southwest to 300N, 1.85 miles, with another stretch that picks up with a tunnel under Ronald Reagan Parkway and runs 1.25 miles to Raceway Road.   This spring, the tunnel has been primed, painted and murals done by local artists have been started.  
In September, my husband will be joining them for the B&O Express 5K or 10K Walk/Run that starts at the IU Health West hospital and loops around the B&O trail.  He has trained for his marathons by running along the trail even though there isn't five kilometers of consecutive B&O trail built. Yet.
On June 2nd, for National Trails Day, there is going to be a B&O Bicycle Tour. This is the 20th Anniversary of the riding tour.  For 20 years, the Hendricks County Trail Association has held this bike ride to raise funds to develop the trail.  It will be a very family friendly ride through Hendricks County.  Kids 7 and under are free.  And there will be your choice of a 10, 25, 45, or 62 mile loop ride, beginning at Williams Park.  Right now they only have a few miles of trail to run, but with help and support, someday soon I hope we'll all be able to run, walk, or ride off into the sunset.