The Vermillion Trails Alliance was launched in the spring of 2017 by a group of local citizens. In less than a year we developed a mission, vision and a strategic plan, adopted a set of bylaws and became incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit. We defined two major focus areas and have successfully accomplished our first goal.
Our initial focus was to gain control of an abandoned railroad grade across the Wabash River flood plain near Hillsdale, IN. Our aim was to provide the continuation of the B & O Trail on one of only four pedestrian bridges across the Wabash River in Indiana. A group in neighboring Parke County recently installed a new deck on an abandoned railroad bridge over the Wabash River. The bridge had been acquired and is owned by the Indiana DNR. Through a purchase, a donation of land and a transfer of land by affidavit, we have acquired the entire abandoned railroad grade on the Vermillion County side and have transferred full ownership to the Vermillion County Commissioners. The county attorney is currently working with CSX to reestablish a designated crossing of the active CSX rail line. In the interim we are turning our attention to our second goal.
Our current priority is a rail to trail project with an associated Trailhead Park. It will showcase the value and potential of trail development to the local community and it is an extraordinary opportunity for collaboration and partnership among local groups and entities. The Vermillion County Commissioners own a quarter section of land (the county farm) just south of the county seat of Newport, the southwest corner of which is occupied by the county jail, the humane shelter and a highway garage. The balance of the land is pasture, woodland and a capped landfill. At the Commissioner’s meeting in November of 2017, at our request, they modified the lease to set aside 2 acres of the pasture land for development of a county park.We intend to develop the rail bed as a walking/biking trail and to designate the park as a trailhead. Our long range plan includes woodland trail loops, a picnic shelter, a naturescape playground, a nature discovery area and a prairie restoration on the capped landfill.