The first public meeting to discuss creating a rail-trail in the countryside surrounding Pittsburgh was held in 1989. A core group of 15 committed people attended, and some of them are still active volunteers. In 1991, the MTC purchased the Montour Railroad right-of-way.
Back then, MTC members envisioned a trail along the railbed, a coal transport spur abandoned in 1984, that stretched from Coraopolis to Clairton. Over the years, Council efforts concentrated on acquiring funding and rights of way, building infrastructure, paving pathways, engineering and rehabilitating bridges, joining Trail communities, building trailheads/access areas, and marketing the resource to the public.
Future efforts relate to closing gaps in the southeast section — a total of less than five miles! This requires equal parts fundraising, engineering, construction, and annual maintenance. To sustain these efforts, the Council receives revenue from utility crossings and a lease from a railroad line along the trail’s Westland Branch. Revenue from shale gas deposits, annual memberships, grants, and gifts also help pay the bills.
The Montour Trail Council is an original member of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and has partnered with other trails in the Pittsburgh region. It has generated funds to help complete the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) into Pittsburgh, and raised millions of dollars for trail development along both the Montour and GAP.