We are proud to announce that the Dahlgren Trail has been selected to receive grant funding to perform some much needed trail clean up activities, including the repair and replacement of some benches, the re-painting of some worn down mile marker signs, and the cleaning of some trail kiosks. We are grateful to the Extreme Terrain team for their generosity! Learn more about their Clean Trail Grant Program today!
What you'll need:
Grease a 9x5 loaf pan
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, and sugar
Add the paw paw and vanilla
Add whisked and sifted dry ingredients
Add yogurt and nuts/chocolate
Bake for about 1 hour or until a straw comes out clean
If the loaf becomes too dark around 35-40 minutes, cover the top with aluminum foil to protect from burning
Users of the DRHT near Rt 301 (near Sheetz) will have noticed that the trail has been slightly rerouted. The trail has been shifted north about 50 feet to accommodate a new self-storage facility being built in the King George Gateway commercial area. The reroute was provided by the KG Self-Storage LLC, Monmouth Partners and Mullen Excavating. Thanks to them for assuring the continuity of the trail for the citizens of King George.
When CSX abandoned the eastern section of the Dahlgren Junction Railroad in the 1970s, they put it on the market. It was finally sold to a King George resident, Joe Williams, in 1997. This section ran from Bloomsbury Road near Sealston, to Rt. 301 in Dahlgren, near the corner of Owens Drive, and across from the “railroad gate”, now the Navy Base’s B Gate. What is not widely known is that the last mile before Rt. 301 was sold a few days later to the developers of the property along Rt. 301 which is now a bustling commercial area.
Fast forward a few years to 2006, when the vision of a rails-to-trails project came into being, and the property was sold to a David Brickley and a Friends group was established to build and maintain the trail. While this section of the trail, 15.7 miles, was “officially” the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, to the trail users and especially to the residents in nearby residential developments, it was all one trail, from Sealston to Rt. 301. While we always realized that the eastern mile was subject to development, nothing happened for many years and it wasn’t a big concern. We still maintained the vision of the trail reaching to B Gate to provide a commuting route to the Navy Base for bicyclists, and a way to get to the shops and restaurants and hoping that we could work something out with the developers.
Fast forward again to a couple of months ago. The first commercial development is occurring on the trail. A few yards west of Rt. 301, construction has started on a large self-storage facility. The facility will extend onto the original railbed. The good news is that the developer, King George Self-Storage, has built a new trail a few yards north or the original trail. The new trail has recently been opened and is now in full use. The work on the reroute was done my Mullen Excavating, who is the site preparation contractor for the self-storage development. According to Peggy Mullen, the owner, the work for the trail was pretty routine. For those who have been on the new trail it looks really nice. The Mullen company project superintendent, Mike Vogel, did a great job. The trail construction involved filling in a ditch that was left over from the original railroad construction in 1942, grading and compacting the trail bed, and applying a layer of gravel. Garden club members are already discussing how to landscape the new trail when the facility construction is 100% complete.
The rerouted trail is shown on the site plan for the self-storage facility as a “trail reservation.” The reserved area is 30’ wide, and stretches for about a quarter-mile in a nice wide arc, following the curve of the railroad as it left the base and followed the land topography to Fredericksburg. The trail itself, is about ten feet wide.
We have very few pictures or other details of the operation of the Navy Railroad that is now the Dahlgren Trail. Just recently, someone found a picture of one of the switching engines that ran on the railroad and passed it to one of our board members, Paula Van Alstine. This picture was taken on the part of the railroad that was on the Navy base. Paula has reached out to the Dahlgren Museum and they are going to try to find out more about the picture and feature it in their exhibits.
A new historic signboard was installed on the trail by the Dahlgren Museum to highlight the history of the Navy Railroad. This signboard kiosk is located at the Sheetz convenience story on Rt. 301 across from B Gate to the Navy base at Dahlgren. Thanks to the Museum and Eagle Scout candidate Will Tolley for making this happen, and thanks to the Sheetz management for their support. Lastly, the Dahlgren Trail was featured in the December Newsletter of the King George County Historical Society.
In case you didn’t know, our goal for the Dahlgren Trail is to become part of Caledon State Park and the Virginia State Park system. GOOD NEWS! The Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR) recently completed a study that illustrated that the Dahlgren Trail is "suitable" to join Caledon as a state park! Click here to read the results of the study.
Our next step is to move forward and get this information and public support in front of our legislature. WE NEED YOU, our trail users and friends, to contact your local legislators and tell them that you support the Dahlgren Trail's incorporation into the VA State Park System.
Here is what to do:
Contact your local legislative representatives - email them to share your experiences on the trail, tell them about the trail's value in this region, and directly ask for their support when the time comes for them to vote upon the topic of incorporation into the VA State Park System.
You can find the name and contact information for your local representative here. Your legislator might change in January with redistricting, but it’s vitally important that as many of our legislators as possible are aware of the trail's goal. They will all have to vote on it! If you live in King George and the surrounding area, your legislators are:
Senator Richard Stuart: email@example.com
Delegate Margaret Ransone: DelMRansone@house.virginia.gov
Here is a draft to help you get started. Feel free to copy and paste this text as a baseline for your email to your legislators:
Dear VA Legislators,
I'm reaching out in support of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, and it's incorporation into the VA State Park System.
The 16-mile Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail follows the route of the 1940s Dahlgren Branch Rail Line, and stretches across King George County just south of the Potomac River in Virginia's Northern Neck. The trail is open for walking, running, cycling, and other non-motorized recreational uses, and is frequently used as a non-motorized commuting route to the town and military support facility in Dahlgren, VA. The trail is comprised of 240 acres of preserved sanctuary of unspoiled forest, wetlands, and streams for native wildlife and natural beauty.
To be sustained, expanded, and permanently preserved for future generations, the Dahlgren Trail needs professional management that can only be provided by incorporation into the VA State Park System alongside Caledon State Park.
[If you have a memorable story or experience on the trail - insert it here].
As a community member, Dahlgren Trail user and supporter, I ask for your support regarding the incorporation the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail into the VA State Park System. This recreational trail is a valuable and cherished gem in this region, and I want to see it protected for generations to come.
December Greetings from the Friends of the Dahlgren Trail!
We'd like to wish everyone a happy and healthy winter and holiday season! We look forward to the coming year with high expectations for enjoyable events, meaningful partnerships, and lasting memories on the trail!
In case you didn’t know, our goal for the Dahlgren Trail is to become part of Caledon State Park and the Virginia State Park system. But we still often talk with trail users who are surprised and amazed that it’s not already a public park. We are often asked why we want the trail to be part of the Virginia State Park system. There are two primary answers: the first is to protect the trail in perpetuity; the second is to bring the trail under professional management. There is technical expertise and guidance in the state park system that will be of immense help to us as volunteer friends of the Dahlgren Trail.
One of the common questions that we are often asked is how to get from the Dahlgren Trail to Caledon. At this time, there only one route to connect these areas, which includes walking on the road. While it is legal to walk or bike on the roads, we don’t publicize or encourage these routes for safety reasons. Like most rural roads, there are no shoulders and there are some blind curves; if you do decide to travel between the Dahlgren Trail and Caledon, do with with utmost caution. On the bright side, we are working with the county and the state as well as private landowners to develop off-road routes. Thanks for your patience as we continue to work on these partnerships.
According to the book “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth,” by Joe Tennis, the Dahlgren Trail would become the seventh railroad trail in the state park system. Two of the existing ones are complete parks: High Bridge and New River. The others are railroad trails that are housed within a state park. The Dahlgren Trail will fall in that latter category, and will double the total length of the trail system at Caledon.
Another interesting aspect of the Dahlgren Trail is that it will become the only trail in the park system that started as a military railroad. The railroad, then called the Dahlgren Junction Line, was built by the U. S. Navy in 1942 to support the war effort at the Naval Base at Dahlgren (at the time known as the Naval Proving Grounds). Remnants of the Navy railroad still exist in the form of concrete boundary markers along the railroad right of way. These are marked with an embossed “USN” at the top of the markers. The western part of the line is still an active spur providing service to the King George Industrial Park and Gateway Shopping Center.
Have a great winter season! See you on the trail!
~Jim Lynch, President of the Friends of the Dahlgren Trail
Welcome to the Dahlgren Trail November Newsletter!
We'd like to begin our newsletter with a special acknowledgement and thanks to the owner of the Dahlgren Trail, Mr. David Brickley. in addition to his work with the Dahlgren Trail, he has been working for 20 years to lead an effort to create a trail system linking all three September 11 sites: The National September 11 Memorial in New York City, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA., and the 9/11 National Pentagon Memorial. That work culminated last month when President Joe Biden signed legislation to designate the “September 11th National Memorial Trail,” linking the the sites with a trail of remembrance. Learn more about David's amazing accomplishments on our website, here.
In case you didn’t know, our goal for the Dahlgren Trail is to become part of Caledon State Park and the Virginia State Park system. But we still see trail users who are surprised amazed that it’s not already a public park. These things seem to move at a snail’s pace, but we are encouraged by the acceptance by the public for the trail, and we are so grateful for the many expressions of appreciation for the trail.
There are two Friends groups who advocate for our goal: Friends of the Dahlgren Trail and Friends of Caledon State Park. There are many wonderful people who serve on both groups work cooperatively on many projects. One of those projects was an event which was hosted couple of weekends ago: the Caledon Art & Wine Festival. This festival is one of the premier events in King George. Friends of the Dahlgren Trail was delighted that the Friends of Caledon asked us to host a table at the event to showcase the Dahlgren Trail. At the event, we have the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about the trail.
In addition to our website, many trail users have discovered us through these great websites and information sources:
All Trails: AllTrails is a website deigned to foster happy, healthy communities by connecting people to the outdoors and to each other. The Dahlgren Trail is featured within their site, and users give the DRHT a 4.1 rating out of 5. Here’s a recent comment: “I really liked the trail. I took my pups for a walk. It’s a long, flat gravely trail, perfect for taking a walk. If you start on the west entry point off of Bloomsbury Rd, you'll see the train and tracks for maybe 1.5 miles, after that it's gravel and pebbles. You need a permit to go on this trail, they have a QR code posted to make it easy to complete. It a beautiful place.”
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is all about building a nation connected by trails. They reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. On their website, the Dahlgren Trail is listed as one of the top ten trails in Virginia. To quote their website, “The rustic route stretches almost across King George County on the former Dahlgren Branch Line—an important rail line during World War II—showcasing the wildlife and natural beauty of the region along the way.”
Mid-Atlantic Gravel, Travel and Dirt: A group of dedicated bikers who created an awesome video about traveling the trail by bike. Their website explains, “In March 2019 the team at Gravel Travel & Dirt took off to the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail in King George, VA. It’s safe to say that over here at GT&D we love a good rail trail. And when that trail is natural surface it’s all the better. Natural surface trails tend to have a character and history that is all their own. The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail in King George, VA first came on our radar several years ago. We were not disappointed. The trail is managed by a group of dedicated, hard-working volunteers with a vision for something great.”
We continue to try to expand parking for our trail community. The latest parking news comes from our friends at Little Ark Baptist Church. They have generously offered to allow trail users park in the back of their parking lot; from there it’s a short walk to the trail along an access driveway (about 100 yards). The address is 15681 Owens Drive, King George VA. There are two driveways side by side; the left-hand driveway belongs to Little Ark Baptist Church, and the right side is a private residence driveway. Please do not park at the church overnight nor trespass in the private drive.
Thank you so much for reading!
Welcome to the Dahlgren Trail October News!
Fall is coming in strong on the Dahlgren Trail! We have really have enjoyed some great events on the trail this past month, including the annual Big WOW and the King George Fall Festival 5K and 1 Mile races. A special shoutout to the King George Middle School Running Club, the “Running Warriors” and their sponsor, the KGHS DECA team and Mrs. Dee Strauss, their faculty sponsor, for their support at the Fall Festival races.
Speaking of the Big WOW, this was the last event to be sponsored at the national level by the Wilsons Disease Association. We have years and years worth of gratitude to express to Constantin Langa, his wife Nichole, and the many other family members and friends who have made this event possible!
Parking improvements are also a focus of ours in this season. Our improvement of the Indiantown Road trailhead is completed; we owe a huge thanks to the Community Foundation for funding this project, as well as Potomac Paving for their great work. The parking area now features a paved entrance and new gravel spread and sloped for better drainage and has more parking spaces. We are still working on a gravel laydown area near Owens, which is comprised of a small parcel at the junction of the trail and Owens Drive, which was donated to us by Roger Williams. Many thanks to Roger! And thanks to the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region for their financial support of this project!
Warren Veazey and Sailor (the Veazey family Great Pyranees) installed a new boardwalk across the persistent muddy spot near mile marker 2.0. This project was made possible by a grant from the Keep Virginia Beautiful 30 x 30 Annual Grant Program. The boards are set so that a work vehicle can drive over them, but our main focus is making that area of the trail more accessible for wheelchairs; accessibility is a big objective for the trail.
Planning is underway for the 2022 King George Race Series. There will be some changes in store for the 50K and HHH Half Marathon in August. We’re planning to start and finish these races at the town of Dahlgren retail/commercial area, instead of the previous starting line at the Bloomsbury Trailhead. Also, we’re hoping to include a 5th event in the series: a ten-miler encompassing the trails at Caledon State Park and the Dahlgren Trail.
Fall is a great time of year to be out, and a nice natural surface path under the trees that are changing color is an unbeatable experience. We hope to see you out there soon!
On September 25th, 2021, the Friends of the Dahlgren Trail and the Langa family hosted the 7th Big WOW (Walk on Wilson’s) on the DRHT. The goal of the WOW is to raise awareness for Wilson’s Disease (WD), a rare genetic disorder, and to support the WD Patient Registry for early diagnosis and treatment eﬀorts. To learn more about WD and the WD Patient Registry please click here.
A beautiful day resulted in a wonderful family event that really showcased what the DRHT means for our community. Constantin Langa, one of the many volunteers who helped clear the trail of the rail ties over 15 years ago, was aﬄicted with the neurological symptoms of WD, which turned him from a very healthy and strong young man to a person who needs 24/7 assistance for daily living. To learn more about his story, please click here. The Dahlgren Trail has been used to bring awareness to our community about this debilitating disease.
For this Big WOW, our community came together once again to support this cause. The Friends of the DRHT prepared the trail and helped to ensure a smooth event. KG Fire and Rescue had an ambulance on standby and for tours. This was a particularly fun activity for the children as the EMT staﬀ let them see the inside of the ambulance. The main event, a walk down the beautiful trail, kicked oﬀ with an endearing speech by Nichole Langa, Constantin’s Langa’s wife, and a group picture.
The attendees, including Constantin Langa riding in an oﬀ road chariot courtesy of Ainsley’s Angels of America, took a walk down the trail. As the sun beams were bursting through the trees, the signs along the trail with facts about WD and the laughter of friends and family, created a fantastic reminder of the impact that the DRHT has had on bringing our community together.
Since 2015, and in its 7th year of hosting the Big WOW, the DRHT has provided a venue for helping raise awareness of WD and bringing our community together. A BIG THANK YOU goes to the Friends of the DRHT, David Brinkley (who attended and is the owner of the trail), KG Fire and Rescue, the Langa Family, and all the attendees. Without these wonderful people the Big WOW wouldn’t be what it was, an event that illustrates the power of love and community.
Welcome to August on the Dahlgren Trail! We're so excited to tell you about our big events from a couple weekends ago!
We've been conducting the 50K race on the Dahlgren Trail since 2009. That first year we had 53 runners. The following winter, a half marathon event was added, which attracted 88 runners. Later in 2016, we decided to add a coinciding half marathon to the August 50K, and it became very popular. Since that time, the total number of participants for both races has historically been about 100-120. Fast forward to this year - numbers were the highest ever in both races and for the combined total of 176! While the numbers are proof of the event popularity, we particularly enjoy hearing about participant's fondness for the trail. We have received many compliments, including, “great trail,” “well maintained,” and “thanks for providing this great opportunity to enjoy this area.” These types of comments make our work worth it!
We can't say enough about our race directors – both current and past. After many years of establishing great events and a great reputation for our trail, Vic Culp turned the reins over to Arsenal Events, Kristen and Ken Loescher. They're doing a great job for the running community overall, and we are their biggest fans. They're continuing the tradition of great races on a great trail, and we couldn’t be more thankful! Runners also can't say enough about the event volunteers. In the words of one Arsenal Events staff member, “I have never heard so many complements after a race.” Thanks to our aid station volunteer teams led by Paula Van Alstine, Rod Schlemm, Jim and Elizabeth Buckley, and the King George Cross Country team! These volunteers provided positive energy on the course, giving the runners a boost! Special thanks to the Chief Petty Officers from Dahlgren for their help with parking and hamburger-flipping, and the King George Amateur Radio Organization for providing vital safety support. Our volunteer and maintenance coordinator, Warren Veazey, makes sure the trail is ready to go and the volunteers are well equipped – we wouldn’t be here without you, Warren! Last but not least, we express appreciation to the race sponsors: Exit Realty in King George, and Anytime Fitness in Dahlgren. Anytime Fitness provided some amazing volunteers too!
50K Winners: Natalie Daniels from Fredericksburg won the women’s category in 3:53:55. For men, Alex Hetherington from Vienna finished in 3:41:21. Alex has entered and won the race several times in the past. Natalie is the Assistant Cross-Country coach at KGHS and not only won the women's division, but was second overall! We were pleased to see Steve Desantis from Alexandria, who has completed every one of the 13 races.
HHH Half Marathon Winners: Colby Miller from Henrico was first in 1:20:36 for the men. For the women, Rebecca Ivester from Fredericksburg won in 1:39:57. Congratulations to everyone who participated! Click here to find the full race results!
Mark your calendar for next year’s HHH Half Marathon and 50K, to be held on August 6th.
Please consider supporting us with your purchases on Amazon. Here's how it works: Go to www.smile.amazon.com and use the "AmazonSmile" tab on the left to choose our charity profile: Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. That's it! There is no cost to you, and 0.5% of your eligible purchases will be donated to us so that we can continue to improve the trail for everyone, all year round.
We’d also like to thank the National Park Service; we've been working with them to develop a Master Plan for the trail. The effort has been hobbled by the COVID pandemic, so we've extended the work for another year. The Master Plan will represent the vision for the long term development of the trail. We depend greatly on what you, our trail users, would like it to be. Please don't hesitate to forward your thoughts using our comment form, here.
We hope to see all of you on the trail. Fall is coming and a great time to get out there for a hike or a bike ride!
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