100 miles and counting: Allen Co. trail system recognized for bi - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

100 miles and counting: Allen Co. trail system recognized for big accomplishment

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

A milestone marked Monday for Allen County's growing trail system.

We show what is being celebrated and why the tools for connecting with nature are proving valuable in other ways as well.

The first walking and biking path in Allen County popped on to the scene way back in 1974.

This day, officials snipped ribbons, marking completion in the county of 100 miles worth of trails.

"We've gotten some emails over the last couple of weeks of people saying, my father who was involved never would have thought we'd ever hit 100 miles, you guys are rocking it, so it's just been wonderful, but I think it's beyond everybody's imagination of what it was," said Fort Wayne Trails Director Kent Castleman.

The stretch christened on this occasion is out north, running from Johnny Appleseed Park, past IPFW and The Plex sports complex to Shoaff Park.

It all started with the humble beginnings of the River Greenway in '74, connecting downtown with Foster Park.

The spread of trails a bit choppy for the first 30 years or so, but the last dozen years, 80 new miles of trail has been developed across the county.

Expansion of Allen County's trail system has come a long way.

Now, 160,000 Allen County residents live within a half mile of one of the trails.

Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters recalls years back taking a trip to Seattle, and dealing with a miserable rainy day on that city's trails.

"But there were people out all over the place and when I asked why, they said, look at this great trail system that we have, so they are attracting people to their community, we're now attracting people to our community, because of the trails," Peters said.

14 infra-red counters are situated on Fort Wayne's trails, logging the number of users.

The number is going up all the time.

The trend figures to keep climbing.

"We've got many many more miles of trails throughout the county that we want to build, so 100 is just our first significant milestone, hopefully in the next 5 to 6 years we'll get up to 150, and then from there over 200 someday," said Dawn Ritchie, the city of Fort Wayne's Greenways Manager.

Fund-raising efforts are underway to help make sure a 40-year journey stays the course. 

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