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This video … WOW!

This video … WOW!

by Elizabeth Babcock

Elizabeth Babcock is a retired psychotherapist, community educator and author in Washington, PA. She has spent a lifetime craving as much outdoor time as possible and spent thousands of happy hours on the Montour Trail back in its very earliest days. You’ll now find her paddling, pedaling, walking or simply reading outside anytime the weather is good enough for it. She developed an interest in website building and maintenance as part of running her own business for 17 years, and is happy to continue that work now for the MTC as a volunteer member of the IT/GIS committee and the website team.

This trail … Elizabeth’s journey

This video … wow.

I confess that in the years when I rode the first section of the Montour Trail from Coraopolis, I had no knowledge of how the trail came to be. I just knew it was there, it was public access, and I wanted to ride it. And oh, how I rode it.

I put in thousands of miles over several years on that first 11.5 mile section. It was an anchor point in my life—something that I always worked into my schedule a few times each week because my time there was so important. Sometimes it was about fitness, sometimes about just being out in nature, sometimes about working out whatever the stress-of-the-day was, sometimes just to chalk up some more miles towards the annual totals of which I was becoming increasingly proud. Usually, it was some bit of all of those.

Never once, in all those happy miles and hours, did I ponder the origins of the trail. It was just there for everybody to use and I used it. I totally took it for granted. I gradually became aware that there was some organization called the Montour Trail Council which, as far as I could tell without bothering to investigate, was some volunteers who had taken it upon themselves to do simple trail maintenance like trash/debris pickup and minor repairs. I thought that was nice and pondered getting involved, though I never did. I just kept riding.

I eventually moved far enough away that the Montour Trail was no longer close enough for me to use, but I occasionally heard bits of third-hand info that it was being extended here and there. I gave no thought to how that was happening or who was doing it, to be honest. Magic, possibly.

Now, years later, I’m finally getting involved with the Montour Trail Council, though the Trail still isn’t accessible to me. Only now am I understanding the history of the Trail, which is shared (obviously with love) in this video, which also shows the love that created the trail in the first place, and powered its development across decades to become what it is so far today.

Please watch this video. Whatever the trail means to you, it will mean so much more when you get a sense of the heart, determination, backbreaking work, endless planning/coordination, and ongoing fundraising to pay for the stuff that dedicated volunteers still need for their work in keeping this trail as well-maintained, accessible, and beautiful as it is.

Montour Trail exists simply because a bunch of regular people decided that it should. The trail is privately owned by the entity that willed it into existence with more hard work than I can even imagine, because they thought the community would benefit from it. Montour Trail Council continues to throw hundreds of personal volunteer hours each month toward the care and future planning of the Trail.

When you see the rules for the trail, please remember that those rules were developed by the people who actually own the trail, and have spent decades putting actual blood, sweat, and tears into building it so we can all enjoy it. The least we can do is respect the well-earned wishes of the people who made this possible for us. The most we can do is join in and find a way to help along as this amazing organization continues to build the Trail for the future.

The video “Then and Now” was created by another Montour Trail volunteer, Tim Killmeyer. He developed it for the MTC’s 30th anniversary celebration in 2019.