Around 1880 a railroad line was built off the Pope's Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. By 1881 the line was running on 21 miles between Brandywine and Mechanicsville, MD. The line struggled, going in and out of bankruptcy and changing names numerous times. In 1942, the Navy took control of the line and extended it by 22 miles to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The line still struggled and in the 1960's, when the Air Station started gettng its aviation fuel by barge, the section between Masons, MD became inactive [north of that, the line still still serves Chalk Point Generation Station]. In 1970, St Mary's county bought 28 miles of the right-of-way between Hughesville and Lexington Park (on the edge of the Air Station).
26 years later, the county began to build a rail-trail on the ROW. Phase I of the rail trail, (map) called the Three Notch Trail, opened in the Spring of 2006. It covers a mile of ROW in the New Market, MD area. In October of this year, Phase II opened. It extends the trail 2.25 miles north into Charles County.
Phase III - a 2 mile section from Wildewood to Wal-Mart, which is being constructed by several private developers in the California area. The South Plaza section is complete; the Wal-Mart section is complete; the Wildewood section is complete; and discussions are ongoing with the developers Kmart, First Colony and St. Mary’s Marketplace (former Bay Center) regarding construction of the trail along their frontage.
Phase IVA - the ½ mile section from Wal-Mart to MD Route 237, Chancellor’s Run Road, is currently under construction and should be completed by spring 2009. Phase IVB, the 2.5 mile section from Chancellor’s Run Road to Pegg Road, will be constructed in the future as part of the FDR Blvd. community road project.
Phase V - the 3 mile section from John V. Baggett Park in Laurel Grove north to MD 5 in Mechanicville, is currently in the design and engineering stage. Construction is expected to begin in summer or fall 2009.
Phases VI - IX: Design and construction of additional phases, from MD 5 in Mechanicsville north to New Market, and from Wildewood north to Baggett Park, are planned for FY11 and beyond, as funding permits.
It's been a big hit.
In addition to the health benefits, we found it refreshing that everyone also exercised the facial muscles which resulted in the smiles. Heaven knows, we need more of them.
Phase V received funding this past summer.
The Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary’s County on Tuesday announced that the County was notified by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s office that $771,000 in Transportation Enhancement Program funding has been awarded to St. Mary’s County for the Three Notch Trail. According to Jack Russell, Commissioner President, the award will assist the County with approximately 50% of the overall Phase V construction costs.
St. Mary's is doing such a good job, that all I'd say is keep it up all the way through phase IX.
But, Charles County could extend it a little farther north. From the county line three miles north through Hughesville to the end of the ROW - let's call that Phase X.
As far as south, onto the Naval Air Station, that's for the Navy to decide - but the ROW parallels a road and may not be needed.
Then of course the next task is to connect it to the Indian Head Rail Trail - which opened earlier this month.
The newly developed hiker-biker trail runs from White Plains to Indian Head and cost the county $3 million to build, according to Tom Roland, assistant director of the Charles County Department of Public Facilities. The National Park Service's Federal Lands to Parks program transferred at no cost to the county a 13.39 mile abandoned railroad corridor for public recreation use in 2006 after it was declared surplus property by the U.S. Navy in 2005. The railroad was used as an important supply route for the Navy from 1918 until the 1990s.
Charles County commissioners' President F. Wayne Cooper (D) said that he hopes the trail will eventually link up to the Three Notch Trail in St. Mary's County.