Friends Groups

The Friends groups started with people who live in the same area, gathering to take care of the portion of the Montour Trail near them. They are community organizations, dedicated to being good stewards of a recreational jewel that’s right where they live. They recognize how fortunate they are; clearly not every community has such a trail.

Image of a tree blocking the Trail

Montour Trail Friends groups spring into action when nature gets in the way. Regular patrols and Facebook page notifications help to alert users and volunteers alike when there is an issue, such as a downed tree blocking the path.

Friends groups serve as an easy and welcome pathway to new people becoming involved with the Trail. Most of the day-to-day maintenance is performed by one of seven local Friends-of-the-Trail groups plus one municipality. Each group meets monthly and schedules frequent work parties on the Trail. The Friends are officially responsible for maintaining local sections of the trail; in addition, there is one group dedicated to researching and preserving the history of the Montour Railroad. Our Friends groups also need help in staffing their own fundraisers for local maintenance.

Back in 1985, before the Montour Trail Council even got started, the municipality of Peters Township purchased an abandoned rail right-of-way and established the Arrowhead Trail. The municipality funded and arranged for its three early 1900s-era rail bridges to be replaced by modern structures. Today, the Montour Trail  connects to Arrowhead at three places. In general, if the trail you’re on in Peters is asphalt, it’s the Arrowhead Trail; if it’s crushed limestone, it’s the Montour.

Peters Township maintains Arrowhead using Public Works Department staff and accepts maintenance requests via the PT4me smartphone app or  iframe.publicstuff.com/#?client_id=1475. The section that PWD is responsible for runs through MP 30.5 — 33.7 and MP B-2.8 — B-3.3.

The can-do attitude of volunteers, coupled with an open door for anyone who wants to help, is what makes MTC so special.

 

Information on “official” Friends groups and meetings is listed below. They are always looking for new volunteers to help out! Also see our event calendar for specific meeting dates

Image of Friends group volunteers

Friends group volunteers pose on a bridge they help to keep in excellent shape.

Montour Trail Friends Groups

Airport

Airport Area Friends (MP 0.0 — 12.6) and the 6.3-mile Airport Connector

The Montour Trail’s first 4.3 miles alone has 4,800 feet of split-rail fencing. Thus, the Airport Friends spend a good percentage of volunteer time fixing the fencing.

The Airport Area Friends of the Trail meets every second Wednesday at 7:00 PM at the Forest Grove Fire Hall, 2044 Ewings Mill Road, Robinson Township, 15108. New volunteers are always welcome. Contact Phyllis McChesney at 412-264-6303 for more information.

Numerous Saturday work parties are held during the season. Call 412-262-3748 to sign up lend a hand at the work parties.

Fort Cherry

Fort Cherry Friends of the Trail (MP 12.3 — 20.7)

Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at the McDonald Trail Station next to the Panhandle Trail, 160 S. McDonald Street, McDonald, at 6:30 PM. Work parties are scheduled as needed. For more information, contact Deb Esia at 724-350-5565 or Chuck Hughey at 724-926-9436.

Westland

Westland Friends of the Trail (Westland Branch MP W-0.0 — W-4.1)

Meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at 11:00 AM at Panera Restaurant in Bridgeville, located on Route 50. Work and clean-up parties are scheduled as needed; Friends meet at the Galati Trailhead on Southview Road. For more  information, contact Doug Ettinger at 412-302-1993 or dougettinger@verizon.net.

Cecil

Cecil Friends of the Trail (MP 20.728.5)

The first tangible milestone of the Montour Trail was the completion of a 4.5-mile segment in Cecil Township, which opened in 1992. The following year, Cecil Trail enthusiasts held their first meeting, a prototype for what would become the official network of Friends groups.

This Friends group maintains National Tunnel, a “wet” structure whose dripping water forms huge icicles in winter. Over the years, volunteers have conducted experiments aimed at keeping the tunnel above freezing and, thus, safer. They now construct a plywood airlock each November to enable year-round tunnel usage, then dismantle it in early spring.

Cecil volunteers plan and stage the National Tunnel Run/Walk each spring, a fundraiser that offers participants race support and a celebratory lunch.

From May to August, meetings are held at the Cecil Henderson Road (Kurnick) access area; otherwise, the group meets at the Trail office (304 Hickman Street, Bridgeville). Call 412-257-2553 for more information.

Work and clean-up parties are every third Saturday of the month at 9:00 AM, subject to change, meeting at the storage shed at Hendersonville. Watch the Facebook group for announcements, or call 412-496-4308 for more information.

Peters Township

Peters Friends of the Trail (MP 28.530.5 and 33.7 — 34.9) and Bethel Branch (MP B-2.1 — B-2.8)

The Peters Friends group is responsible for maintaining approximately 3.75 miles of Trail in Peters Township that is not part of the Arrowhead Trail – which includes the Greer Tunnel and its abutting bridges. The Friends’ biggest challenge is educating the local community about the differences between operating and maintaining these sister trails, and one good opportunity for that is staffing an informational booth at Peters Community Day in late June.

Meetings are the first non-holiday Monday of the month at 7:00 PM. The group typically meets in the Peters Township Community & Recreation Center but occasionally selects other venues. To check on location, for information on meetings, or details about the Friends group in general, contact Mark Imgrund at PetersFriends@montourtrail.org. You can also connect with the Peters Friends through Peters Township Friends Facebook.

Volunteer “work” along the Trail includes the usual: cutting grass, pruning trees and controlling the never-ending growth of weeds. For more information on work parties, contact Jim Robbins at 724-941-6132 or PetersFriends@montourtrail.org.

The Peters Friends also stage two fundraising events each year: an annual Penny Day that places volunteers along the Trail to collect donations, and Twilight Walk in summer that includes refreshments and raffles.

Bethel Park

Bethel Friends of the Trail (MP 34.9 — 35.3) and Bethel Branch (MP B-0.0 — B-2.1)

Because the Bethel Branch runs through a densely populated area, it comprises some of the most-used miles in the  Montour Trail system. Litter is seldom a problem, since many Trail users help with that. What locals rely on the Friends group for is to keep their trail wide (frequent mowing), clear (removing intrusive vegetation), and in good repair, otherwise known as “Bethel Standards.”

Bethel Friends also stage two major fund raisers each year. The J. R. Taylor 5K Race/Walk in the spring depends on more than a dozen volunteers, and Penny Day in the fall relies on another 18 or so who volunteer at three collection sites along the trail.

Meetings are held every first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 PM at the Bethel Park Municipal Building Caucus Room located immediately behind council chambers. Anyone interested in the Bethel Park Trail segment is encouraged to come. Contact Peter Kohnke at 724-518-9251 for more information.

To keep the Trail in top shape for its many regular users, Bethel Park work and clean-up parties are held twice a month, every second and fourth Saturday of each month at 8:30 AM. Call Bob O’Connell at 412-833-6259 for location and information.

South Hills

South Hills Friends of the Trail (MP 35.3 — 46.3)

The South Hills Friends group typically removes about 10 downed or leaning trees a year. Winter 2010 was a bit atypical: Heavy February snows brought down dozens of trees, and chainsaw-wielding volunteers spent many hours clearing the Trail. To avoid a repeat in winter 2018, the Friends cleared four downed trees and felled an additional 35 that posed a potential hazard to Trail users — all part of staying ahead of the job.

The South Hills Friends also stage an annual Penny Day, a fundraiser that places volunteers along the Trail to collect donations.

Meetings are the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM at the South Park Township Community Room or the Township Library, both located at the Township Building at 2675 Brownsville Road, South Park.

Work and clean-up parties are held on the second Saturday of the month. All volunteers are welcome to participate. For more information, contact Dave Oyler at 412-831-9288 or SouthHillsFriends@montourtrail.org, or Paul McKeown at 412-835-6692 or SouthHillsFriends@montourtrail.org.

Railroad History

Montour Railroad Historical Society

The Historical Society aims to research, preserve and teach the history of the Montour Railroad. As it memorializes the Montour, the group is open to discussion about coal mines, industries, communities, and interconnecting railroads along the Montour’s route. There are no membership requirements other than an interest in preserving the memories of our “Old Friend.”

The society researches and installs historical interpretive signage along the Trail, generally near trailheads and access areas. In addition, its members regularly supply articles for the Montour Trail-Letter.

For information, contact mrhs@montourrr.com, or call Bryan Seip at 724-263-4667.

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