After last month's trail races and all the work to get the trail ready for them, we've taken it a bit easy this past month, tending to normal trail maintenance. A number of Friends of DRHT board members have participated in meetings with trail colleagues to inquire about best practices, continue work on a master plan, and start to plan some events for the fall — in modified form because of COVID-19.
The premier annual event for the Friends of DRHT is the combined 50K and HHH half marathon. The two trail runs are held the first Saturday in August, and yes, it usually is pretty hot (HHH stands for Hot, Hazy and Humid). Even so, runners seem to enjoy the races. We get a good turnout and we enjoy putting them on. It's also an excuse for us to double down on maintenance during a time of year when the trail really needs it: the hot and rainy days of East Virginia summers!
By Kelsey Bracewell
I love running the Dahlgren Trail but admittedly, I came to love it by accident. I didn’t move to this area with any significant amount of running experience, but I chose the activity as a way to become part of a community. I first found the trail through participating in the annual half marathon that is hosted there in the early spring. I ran that race for several years in a row, but otherwise I didn’t visit the trail very often.
By Warren Veazey and Jim Lynch
Earlier in the year, as the coronavirus began to be a serious health issue in the country and Virginia, the Friends of the DRHT were concerned that our popular August trail races would have to be cancelled. Fortunately, Virginia was able to keep things under control and the governor announced entry in a less restrictive phase (Phase 3) before the race. That allowed us to formulate protocols that allowed us to hold the race on Saturday, August 1, while keeping everybody participating as safe as possible.
The nice weather continues to bring out lots of folks to use and enjoy the trail. It’s especially fun to see family groups and running clubs out together. You can read about the Williams family and their birthday outing elsewhere in this issue. More recently I met some women out for a training run as part of Moms RUN This Town, a nationwide running club that fosters camaraderie, exercise and shared experiences. They loved the trail and helped us out by reporting a downed tree.
Welcome to the inaugural issue of On The Trail, the newsletter of the Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail — or the DRHT, respectfully pronounced “dirt.” I hope you enjoy it; let us know what you think.
With the advent of warm weather, not to mention the current coronavirus pandemic, lots of folks are getting outdoors to enjoy their favorite local park. The DRHT is one of them. Our parking lots are filling up and we meet bikers and walkers new to the trail every day as well as “regulars” who are out there several times a week.
Longtime trails advocate and former state legislator David Brickley, owner of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, is asking Maryland and Virginia officials to keep the Rt. 301 bridge over the Potomac River exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians. Plans have called for demolishing the bridge once a new bridge is built .
Advocates worked with transportation officials for years to include a traffic-separated lane on the new bridge for bikes and walkers. But in November 2019, the Maryland Transportation Authority announced it would not include that lane, citing high costs.
A two-mile bike/pedestrian bridge “would be a model for our nation and would serve to provide the economic, health and tourism benefits for our citizens,” Brickley wrote last week to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. “Please consider this option before it is forever closed.”
Joe Williams, a former planning commissioner for King George County who originally purchased the abandoned Dahlgren Railroad corridor in 1997, passed away last month at age 90. A longtime resident of the county and an avid walker, Williams sold the corridor to David Brickley, its current owner, in 2006. He enjoyed watching its development into a prized rail-trail, led by Brickley and the nonprofit Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail.
Williams passed away at his home on May 12, 2020. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee and served in the U.S. Navy prior to a career with the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his wife, Susan, children Celia (John Herron) and Roger (Kim) and grandchildren Ella, Audrey and Ben.
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