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By Elissa Garofalo, D&L Executive Director
Since this was a particularly exciting fall season, we decided to close out 2017 with a uniquely D&L Top 10 List. From the installation of the historic Mansion House Bridge at Jim Thorpe to a record-setting Half Marathon, here are the moments that stood out the most this year:
1.) Long-awaited Bridge Installed
First conceived in our 1992 Management Action Plan, the Mansion House Bridge at Jim Thorpe was installed on Monday, Dec. 18th. Multiple partners, including PennDOT, DCNR and the Carbon County Board of Commissioners, were instrumental in making the $4.1 million, 250-foot steel-through-truss structure a reality. The bridge links the D&L Trail’s Anthracite Region to the Lehigh Valley.
2.) Anthracite Partnership in Place
What began as a conversation at North Branch Land Trust’s (NBLT) annual dinner has evolved into a small group of committed partners working strategically to close remaining D&L Trail gaps in Luzerne County. With NBLT, the D&L is working with Senator John Yudichak, all three Bureaus of DCNR, the Luzerne County Commissioners, Glen Summit Homeowners Association, Earth Conservancy, Anthracite Scenic Trails Association, PennDOT, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Dowd Family Trust, Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, Luzerne County Visitors Bureau, City of Wilkes Barre, and Black Diamond Partnership.
3.) Museum Director Hired
Daphne Mayer is responsible for directing the daily operations of the Emrick Center, National Canal Museum and the Josiah White II mule-drawn canal boat, as well overseeing educational programming.
4.) Park Improvements Complete
The City of Easton completed $850,000 in upgrades to Hugh Moore Park that helped attract more visitors to our island park home nestled between the Lehigh Canal and River. A bicycle skills course, stage for summer concerts, expanded playground with zip line, banners, paved interpretive path, and improved parking are among the upgrades.
5.) Partnership with Delaware Canal-21
The D&L applied to the William Penn Foundation for funds to match Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) grants that were recently awarded to DC-21. If successful, the funds will be used to help maintain a watered Delaware Canal on a reliable basis and improve public access for the Delaware Canal Towpath section of the D&L Trail at Easton, Point Pleasant, and Bristol Borough. A decision from the Foundation is expected early next year.
6.) D&L Awarded $335,000
The DCNR announced funding to coordinate programming and design and engineer the D&L Trail from Oliver Mills to Mountain Top in Luzerne County.
7.) Fall Attendance Up
Favorable weather and extended hours through October resulted in a longer operation season. This helped visitor and ridership numbers rise by about 30 percent at the National Canal Museum and aboard the Josiah White II, one of America’s last mule-drawn canal boats.
8.) Half Marathon Sets Another Record
A new woman’s course record was set in November during the Seventh Annual D&L Heritage Half Marathon. The race continues to grow in popularity as walkers and runners from 14 states competed.
9.) More Bike-able Miles Added
When Northampton Borough opened the path in Canal Park to bicycles, about 1.5 miles of trail heading south can now be used to access the Nor-Bath Trail by both pedestrians and bicyclists.
10.) Weis Markets Supports Tails of the Towpath
The D&L recently received a donation from Weis Markets through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. This type of corporate donation helps support our fourth-grade curriculum that introduces students to America’s Age of Canals and the vital role our region played during the Industrial Revolution.
Finally, none of these accomplishments would be possible without the support of donors like YOU and hundreds of others like you.