NEW YORK, NY — March 24, 2011 — The Open Space Institute (OSI) and Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) invite area residents, business owners and the outdoor enthusiasts who travel from far and wide for the unparalleled beauty of the Shawangunks to "Track the Trestle," as the two organizations kick off a fundraising campaign to help renovate and repair the historic railroad trestle over Rondout Creek and Route 213 in Rosendale.
Together, OSI and the WVLT intend to raise support to help fund improvements that will make the 114-year-old trestle, once part of an active railroad that ferried Ulster County produce down to markets in New York City, safe again for public use.
A special kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Rosendale Theater. Rail trail supporters are invited to enjoy a short video of Walter Williams telling trestle stories fireside at the Williams Lake Lodge, along with a montage of historic photos from Carlton Mabee. The video will be shown multiple times throughout the event, and refreshments will be served. The Rosendale Theater is located at 408 Main Street, Rosendale, NY, 12472.
After it is restored, the trestle—boasting incredible views of the Shawangunk Ridge, the Binnewater Lakes region and the hamlet of Rosendale—will be a major highlight along the nearly 24-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Overall, the project is expected to cost 1.1 million dollars. The organizations have already raised $450,000 through public and private grants.
"This campaign goes beyond raising money to repair the trestle," said Kim Elliman, OSI's CEO. "We want to give local residents, business people, hikers, bikers—anyone who appreciates the beauty of this rail trail—the opportunity, in essence, to own it, maintain it and manage it."
A series of additional events, ranging from local food tastings, presentations on the history of the railroad and the Shawangunk region, and performances for families and children will be held throughout the year to raise awareness and support for the project. A new website, www.trackthetrestle.org, has also been launched, and will provide up-to-date information as the project progresses.
In August 2009, OSI and WVLT partnered to acquire the 11.5 miles of railroad bed that will ultimately expand the rail trail's length to nearly 24 miles—through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale and Ulster, and on to Kingston. The 940-foot-long trestle was closed in June of last year after engineers' inspections confirmed that improved decking, railings and safety supports were needed to bring the bridge up to appropriate safety standards.
While the trestle is being restored, OSI and WVLT are simultaneously working to restore sections of rail bed along the trail.
"This trail has the potential to be one of New York State's finest, and if you think about some of the spectacular rail trails in this state, that's really saying something," said Christie DeBoer, WVLT's executive director. "With the support we have already seen from the local community, the sky really is the limit."