Page 27 - 2013_winter.indd

Andes is small enough that you can
easily walk to the new trail from any-
where. It begins near the town’s only
school, which will have a graduating
class of nine this year. Not far from the
school is an old train depot, which serves
as an unofficial trailhead and which
Roberti hopes to one day restore. In the
early 1900s, the town’s farmers took
their milk to the creameries at the depot
to be transported by train to the sur-
rounding communities. From the depot,
one can travel a mile along the trail’s
natural grassy surface, still spotting old
railroad ties in some places.
Business owners, including Sally
O’Neill of The Andes Hotel and restau-
rant, are enthusiastic about the rail-trail.
Every week in the summer and fall
someone asks us where they can hike
here in Andes,” she says. “Before now, I
would have to send people to neighbor-
ing towns, rather than keeping them
here, supporting our local economy.”
Perhaps one of the most remarkable
things about the trail is the fact that,
so far, it has been completely built and
funded by volunteers. When a board-
walk needed to be constructed over a
marshy section of the trail, a sawmill
owner donated much of the lumber,
while other volunteers helped chop
down and use additional wood from a
large tree that was leaning over the trail.
Neighboring landowners are also lending
a hand to keep the trail mowed. The vol-
unteer efforts have paid off, and the trail
opened to great acclaim this past June.
You’re inside woodlands and open
pastures, and have views down to a park
with a stream and the remnants of an
old stone mill,” says Roberti. “For a
short trail, there are a lot of views.”
With a Little TLC,
a Rail-Trail Rebounds
Ten years ago, the Old Frisco Trail needed
a lot of love. Long the product of neglect,
the trail was choked with tall weeds,
alive with chiggers and snakes, hazard-
ous with rotting bridges and used as an
illicit dumping ground. Today, led by the
efforts of Josh Snyder and other local vol-
unteers, this once foreboding landscape
in Poteau, Okla., has been transformed.
Tom Brennan, who has been run-
ning on the trail nearly daily since those
early days, remembers a time when he
could go a whole year without seeing
another soul on his run. Several years
ago, in fact, his mere presence on the
trail apparently seemed suspicious. “I
was running [on the trail],” he says, “and
I look behind me and see a cop car com-
ing. I get out of the way, but he turns his
siren on. I stopped to talk to him and he
started interrogating me: ‘What are you
doing out here? Do you have identifica-
tion?’ It just reflects the fact that nobody
expected that trail to be used for any-
thing. That wouldn’t happen today.”
A fortuitous meeting in a restaurant
about four years ago brought Snyder
and Brennan together. Snyder had been
looking for a running partner, and
Brennan was known in town as a mara-
thoner. Brennan’s training spot was the
Old Frisco Trail. He had made an effort
to clean it up—even going out there
with a push mower—but the task was
overwhelming. Luckily, Snyder, who
owns a lawn and landscaping business,
had the equipment and resources at
hand to make much-needed improve-
ments. During the last few years, he
visited the trail several times to prune,
mow and spray for weeds. With these
efforts, a beautiful trail began to emerge.
What’s exciting is that four years
ago, absolutely no one used it,” says
Snyder. “Now that it’s clear and open,
it’s utilized quite a bit.”
As word of the improvements spread,
other local businesses and residents
began giving their time and money for
the trail. Sandstone mile markers were
added to make the trail easier to navi-
gate, and yellow stakes were placed at
road crossings to make it safer. An invit-
ing 4-foot-tall granite stone engraved
with the trail’s name was placed at the
entrance, and directional signs were
added along nearby roadways. Southern
Star Inc., a regional satellite dish service
provider, even hosted two successful
charitable 5K races on the corridor,
which helped raise the trail’s visibility.
We attracted people who’d never
been introduced to running,” says
Southern Star’s chief operating officer,
Jeff Fesperman, another running partner
and lifelong friend of Snyder. “They real-
ized how much fun it is.”
Though the trail’s first four miles are
now in excellent shape, the remaining
miles that lead to the town of Wister
still need work. This final leg, including
a scenic section adjacent to a large lake,
looks much like the rest of the trail did
years ago: trash-strewn and overgrown.
That’s something that Snyder, with
the momentum and community support
behind him, looks forward to addressing.
For more information on the Old
Frisco Trail volunteer efforts, call Josh
Snyder at 918.775.0631.
Residents from the small town of Andes, N.Y.,
celebrate National Trails Day with a stroll
along the new Andes Rail Trail.
An engraved granite stone now
marks the entrance to what was once an
overgrown and ill-kept Old Frisco Trail.