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CELEBRATING ANOTHER PIECE OF THE TRAIL … Seen here from left to right are Delta Mayor Bob Gilbert, Speaking is NORTA President Ed Snyder, and Metroparks Chief of Operations Joe Fausnaugh, as they prepare to cut the ribbon for the opening of the newly paved portion of the Wabash Canonball Trail. Picture courtesy of NORTA.
By: Rebecca Miller
A brand new six mile paved section of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, the regions longest trail, was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, September 8, 2020. The ceremony took place at the barn across the road from 5775 St. Rt. 109 in Delta at 2 p.m. with dignitaries and media present.
NORTA, Northwestern Ohio Rails to Trails Association President Ed Snyder, Chief of Operations for Metroparks Toledo Joe Fausnaugh, and Delta Mayor Bob Gilbert were the speakers for the occasion.
‘Tom’s Mile’ – The first mile of the new trail extension was dedicated in honor of Tom Duvendack, former manager of Oak Openings Preserve, who died last year. Tom was one of the leaders who advocated for the Wabash Cannonball, and remained involved with NORTA after his retirement from Metroparks. Tom’s wife, Marianne, who is also very involved with the making of the Trail, was there and was invited to join the gentlemen up front for the cutting of the ribbon.
In a press release, from Metroparks Toledo Director of Public Relations Scott Carpenter, some background information was given, stating that “Metroparks Toledo worked with the Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association to extend the paved section of the Wabash-Cannonball Trail six miles from where the paved section of the trail’s North Fork left off at Fulton-Lucas Road to St. Rt. 109 just outside the village of Delta.
Metroparks received funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program and managed the construction project, awarding a $2.2 million paving contract to Expercon, LLC of Toledo. The TAP funding paid for 95 percent of the cost.
The trail is owned by NORTA and the project enhances a significant piece of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, making it more accessible and inviting to walkers, cyclists and runners. The North Fork is a 46-mile trail, which is currently paved for 15 miles from North Jerome Road in Maumee west to Route 109. It continues to Montpelier, Ohio, mostly unpaved, with another paved stretch east of Wauseon.
The North Fork and a connector trail link Side Cut, Fallen Timbers Battlefield, Cannonball Prairie and Oak Openings Preserve Metroparks. The trail also has a South Fork that stretches 17 miles from Maumee to Liberty Center, with the first 10 miles paved.”
Fausnaugh said in his remarks, “It is our long experience that trails are the No. 1 reason people come to the Metroparks, and our parks have never been busier.” Snyder, President and Founding member of NORTA shared a history that started in 1990 when a “100 year old railroad announced its intention to cease operating on a line that ran from Maumee to both Montpelier and Liberty Center through Fulton County.”
Near the end of his talk, he said that NORTA’s “continuing mission (sounds almost like Star Trek!) To continue to collaborate to develop WCT with Partners like Williams County, the villages of Liberty Center and Montpelier; to boldly go where many have gone before and will hopefully go for a long time to come; to volunteer, to reach to connect with new cooperators and collaborators.”
Delta Mayor Bob Gilbert is excited about having the Rails to Trails coming into the 109 Corridor. “We believe it will help our downtown businesses tremendously,” he said.
“Our hope is that one day we will be able to see a trail that runs from the rail route into Delta. It is a great advantage for those living in Delta as well as those who come from the Lucas County area. We are happy to welcome all the hikers and walkers who come.”
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com