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Rail trail from Boscawen to Lebanon is up for a national honor

  • With Brent Bell in the front, Randy Pierce raises his arm in a victory salute while biking the Northern Rail Trail in Lebanon, on June 27, 2014. Valley News file

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews

  • Unidentified cross county skiers makes their way through the Lebanon access point of the Northern Rail Trail on Monday, February 13, 2017 in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jovelle Tamayo

  • ----Concord Boscawen Franklin Danbury Wilmot Andover Grafton Orange Canaan Enfield Lebanon CHARLOTTE THIBAULT / Monitor staff Source: Friends of Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County; Charles F. Martin Northern Rail Trail Completed trail from Lebanon through Boscawen 0 7 MILES ---- Charlotte Thibault

Monitor staff
Published: 8/2/2021 5:13:17 PM

Fans of the Northern Rail Trail are hoping that the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will place it in that group’s Hall of Fame, and they need online votes to make it happen.

The 59-mile trail that runs west from Boscawen to Lebanon is going up against two trails in the contest: one on the coast of Delaware and one in central Iowa.

Nominees are selected based on merits such as scenic value, use, historical significance and community connections, but the final designation seems to be based solely on online voting.

Voting runs through the end of Friday, Aug. 6. The winner will be announced later this summer. Voting is at the link:

The Northern Rail Trail was made possible in 1996 when the state purchased an abandoned rail line that was last used by Boston & Maine Railroad. That rail line dated back to 1847. The long, thin stretch of property was planned as a snowmobile trail, and considerable volunteer effort has turned it into a year-round facility.

“While we’ve always known how important trails are to communities nationwide, this past year has proven the immeasurable impact they deliver to our health, well-being and the social fabric of the places where we live, work and play,” said Brandi Horton, vice president of communications for the national conservancy.

Some want the state or city of Concord to buy the right of way of six miles of line being abandoned by Pan Am Railways, which would allow the rail trail to be extended to Horseshoe Pond in Concord in what is being called the Merrimack River Greenway Trail. Others argue that this stretch of rail line should be left in place for future use, either recreational or commercial, perhaps allowing a “rails and trails” facility to be created for side-by-side usage.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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