Representatives of the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy were on hand Friday to formally induct the Tanglefoot Trail into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame.
The program was at the pavilion near the trail near downtown Pontotoc.
Amy Kapp, editorial director for the conservancy and editor of the Rails-to-Trails magazine, presented new signs to representatives of the counties, cities and GM&O district which include the 45-mile trail.
The genesis of the trail came after the GM&O Railroad, started by Col. William Falkner, writer William Faulkner’s great-grandfather, decided to abandon the line in the face of increased other shipping means. With efforts by officials in the three counties and with help from $250,000 from the legislature, the trail opened in 2013.
New Albany Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud told those in attendance that the trail has brought people from all over the world and has caused a resurgence of parks, nature, the arts and society in general.
It has increased the quality of life,” she said. “The possibilities are endless.”
Stroud praised the forward thinking of those who pursued the trail and urged continuation of that attitude.
“Let’s continue to dream and dream big,” she said.
Kapp told the group about the conservancy itself, noting that it has grown from 15,000 miles of trails throughout the U. S. in 2007 to more than 24,000 miles today.
Tanglefoot Trail joins 35 other honored trails in the conservancy hall of fame and Kapp noted that Tanglefoot received more than half the total votes cast to choose which trail would be inducted.
Qualities including scenic value, degree of use, historic relevancy, location and others were considered in nominating Tanglefoot Trail in the first place, she said.
“The value of Tanglefoot Trail cannot be overstated,” she said.
Pontotoc Mayor Bob Peebles talked about how the railroads played a key role in the growth of communities, and the value of the trail now.
“Now we have something that nobody around us has,” he said. He added that it is hard to compete with Tupelo’s retail sales base, and with Oxford or Starkville with their universities. “But we can compete with this trail,” he said.
Joyce East, vice-chairman of the GM&O District board of directors, recognized the hard work and cooperative effort that went into making the trail a reality, beginning with a15-person Rail Corridor Alliance that grew into the GM&O board.
Pontotoc County Chancery Clerk Ricky Ferguson was emcee.