From the Trailhead, by Jim Lynch
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
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