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GTT Challenge Breaks Record With Over 200 Participants

The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority held the third Annual Ghost Town Trail Challenge on Saturday June 16th, 2018 as the second event of their 2018 Cambria County Trail Series races. Over 200 people participated in the event from eight different states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Virginia, New Jersey, West Virginia Ohio, and California.

The Challenge, which was to finish the event by sunset on the longest Saturday of the year, included three event distances: the 50K (32 miles), 25K (16 miles), and 12K (7.5 miles). The top three 50k Finishers include Julio Palma (4:15:53), Keith Straw (4:26:56), and Andres Hernandez (4:39:38). The top three 25k Finishers include Madeline Berry (1:50:21), Morgan Keibler (1:50:21), and Danae Peters (1:50:21). The top three 12k Finishers include Emily Roberts (56:37), Sarah Roberts (56:37), and Matthew Estok (57:20).

Many Challenge volunteers from the Board of Directors and from the Greater Johnstown community assisted runners and walkers at the six food/aid stations located along the trail. Blacklick Valley and Ebensburg EMS and the Laurel Highlands Nodic Ski Patrol provided participants with first aid response along the trail as necessary. All participants received a high quality t-shirt, and finishers received a commemorative finisher’s medal and beer growler. CCCRA and Coal Country Brewing partnered together to create a unique beer to offer participants to fill their growlers at Country Garden Six Pack in Ebensburg. The beer was named Rusted Rail from the Ghost Town Trail.

The first event of the 2018 Cambria County Trail Series was the Path of the Flood Historic Races held on May 26th, which attracted nearly 1,000 participants to celebrate the 5th anniversary of this event in Johnstown. The third and final event of the Trails Series will be the Jim Mayer Family Fun Run/Walk on September 8th, also in Johnstown.

Sponsors included: Gold Level – Saint Francis University, Kongsberg Protech Systems USA, Robindale Energy Services, Inc., Coal Country Brewing; Silver Level – Up-N-Running, Heath M. Long, Esquire, Country Garden Six Pack, First Student, Sheetz; Bronze Level – Ebensburg Insurance Agency, McCall Motors, Inc., Dillweed Bed & Breakfast, 1st Summit Bank, Big Stone Inn, Ebensburg Fitness, and the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Photos by Lance Harshbarger of Momentum Photography

Ghost Town Trail Extension

An additional 9.34 miles of new trail will be added to The Ghost Town Trail through Blacklick Township, and construction will begin in the spring of 2017. The trail extension will go from the end of the current Rexis Branch at White Mill Crossing, past the Belsano Crossing, to North Street in Cardiff. In addition to the trail extension, additional parking and trail access will be added at North Street. This project is part of a 1.2 million dollar PennDot TAP grant secured by the CCCRA. The CCCRA has approved the design and found waste slag to be the best option due to its durability and low price. With the savings from material and additional state funding, the CCCRA  will also be able to reconstruct two more trail bridges beyond Expedite Road and designate them as the Carson Kitner Memorial Bridges.

The 9.34 extension will go from the end of the current Rexis Branch at White Mill Crossing past the Belsano Crossing to North Street in Cardiff. The project will include the construction of two bridges and is expected to begin in the spring of 2017.
Steve Behory Memorial Park on North Street in Cardiff will serve as The Ghost Town Trail access point after the latest extension is completed. Photograph courtesy of Randy Griffith.

Jim Mayer Trail Extension

From the ongoing efforts of the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, a new section was added to the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail in Johnstown, PA. The trail now extends 1.7 miles farther from Bridge Street to Messenger Street in Johnstown. With the new addition, the popular urban riverside trail now measures 3.1 miles total. The Jim Mayer Family Fun Run, part of the 2016 Cambria County Trail series, marked the official grand opening of the extension with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 14th. Members of the CCCRA, President Commissioner Tom Chernisky, and members of the Jim Mayer family were in attendance.

The ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the new extension of The Jim Mayer Trail.
Participants from the Jim Mayer Family Fun Run on the new trail extension.

Art Mural Project on The Jim Mayer Trail

Through the Friends of the Trails program, the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority funded its first trail enhancement project: two art murals on The Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail. The trail is Johnstown’s most popular urban trail, which now stretches over three miles from Riverside to Sandyvale Memorial Gardens. The art murals were painted by artists Richard Hower and John Shook from the Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center, along with community volunteers, and are now located on the old trolley bridge walls along the trail .1 miles from the Bridge Street trail head. Community volunteers, along with CCCRA and Bottleworks staff, made this project possible by spending days before the painting began prepping the site by washing the walls and priming them.

Community volunteers prime the walls before the painting begins.
Artist Richard Hower paints the mural along the wall.
Artist John Shook works on painting one of the walls along the trail.
The finished, painted mural along The Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail.
The finished art mural on the walls on the old trolley bridge.

Ehrenfeld Coal Refuse Pile Removal

The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority will be partnering with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamations on this $18.6 million dollar project. A 3.2 ton coal refuse pile will be removed within a 3 year time period. 80 plus acres will be reclaimed in Croyle Township and Ehrenfeld Borough. This project will provide work for over 40 recently laid-off Rosebud Mining Company Miners. The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies presented the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority with a $25,000 check to help fund the project. Removal of the coal pile will improve health and safety issues in Ehrenfeld, along with eliminating acidic runoff into nearby waterways.

Mike Kane, President and Executive Director of the Community Foundation for the Allegheny's, presents the CCCRA a $25,000 check, which will go towards the Ehrenfeld Coal Refuse Pile Removal Project.
The coal refuse pile in Ehrenfeld, PA. Photograph courtesy of the Tribune Democrat.

The September 11 National Memorial Trail and the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal Greenway intersect in Johnstown’s Central Business District (CBD) and promise a significant economic boost from tourism. The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority along with many other organizations will be working towards better connecting the city of Johnstown.

As seen in the map below, these trails will connect local transportation resources – the mass-transit bus terminal in the central business district (CBD), the historic Amtrak passenger rail station, and the historic Inclined Plane. In addition, these trails will connect vital community assets, including parks and public open space, national register historic districts, and cultural and heritage sites that also support tourism, and will improve community livability and opportunities for healthy, engaged lifestyles.

The two nationally significant trails follow three corridors along the major waterways, reversing the community’s historical neglect of the rivers to now highlight them.

  •   Corridor 1 connects the existing Cambria Iron Trail through Cambria City and the West End to the planned Conemaugh Gap Trail (part of the Main Line).
  •   Corridor 2 connects the Path of the Flood Trail into the Downtown and its key transportation assets.
  •   Corridor 3 connects the downtown to Greenhouse Park using existing sections of the James Mayer Riverswalk Trail (part of the 9/11 Trail).


Adopt-A-Trail Cleanups

The Path of the Flood Trail Earth Day Clean Up- April 23rd, 2016

23 volunteers from Mount Olive United Methodist Church in Sidman, PA collected 20 bags of garbage, 20 tires, and many dumped appliances from the Ehrenfeld-Mineral Point section of the Path of the Flood trail. Mount Olive United Methodist Church also adopted this 3.5 mile section of the trail through the CCCRA’s Adopt-a-Trail program and will be cleaning it up twice a year.

The Ghost Town Trail Earth Day Clean Up - April 23rd, 2016

Over 40 Ebensburg community volunteers and  Girl Scouts from Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania collected over 50 bags of trash and 40 tires from the Nanty Glo section of the Ghost Town Trail.

The Jim Mayer Trail Earth Day Cleanup- April 16th, 2016

Over 30 volunteers from the Johnstown community, Johnstown Interact Club, and St. Francis University came out to clean up the Jim Mayer Trail in Johnstown where over 50 bags of trash were collected along with 30 tires.

Jim Mayer Trail Service Project

The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority teamed up with volunteers from the Johnstown unit of the Mennonite Mission Network to enhance and beautify the Jim Mayer Trail through the Friends of the Trails program. The group of volunteers came from Indiana through the Mennonite Mission Network’s Service Adventure program. The group of six youth and two adult leaders weeded and mulched flowerbeds at the Bridge Street and Riverside traill heads and painted the trail parking area fence on Bridge Street. The Home Depot (Johnstown) donated the bags of mulch and paint for the project.

Volunteers from the Mennonite Mission Network paint the fence at the Bridge Street trail head of the Jim Mayer Trail.
Mennonite Mission Network volunteers from Indiana in front of the weeded and mulched Bridge Street trail head sign.

The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority joined the Young Lungs at Play! Initiative ran by the Alternative Community Resource Program (ACRP) and the PA Department of Health. The Young Lungs at Play! Initiative strives to make public parks, recreation spaces, playing fields and playgrounds tobacco-free. The Cambria County Trails encompass nearly 40 miles of public recreation space that will now become the first ever trails in the area to become tobacco-free. Young Lungs at Play! has reached several municipalities in Cambria County and other counties throughout the state. Fifteen signs will be placed along the trail’s different trailhead locations to promote awareness of this initiative.

Young Lungs at Play sign at The Ghost Town Trail.
Representatives from the Young Lungs at Play initiative present members of the CCCRA with signs for the trails.
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