An opportunity for community building
Published 9:18 am Thursday, November 10, 2022
We applaud the Tryon Daily Bulletin for providing a published forum for opinions concerning the proposed Saluda Grade Rail Trail Project. The letters to the editor are a way to share excitement, ideas, opinions and also some concerns. In our case, we’d like to detail a little history of our bicycling enjoyment of rail trails. We support the development of the Saluda Grade Rail Trail.
The first time riding the Thermal Belt Rail Trail in Rutherfordton, NC, we were nearly alone along the 14-mile stretch. Now we see many other bikers, walkers, and strollers. The community clearly enjoys this asset, and the Rutherford Regional Hospital Foundation made a smart investment when it allocated millions of dollars for the trail. It has been a favorite of ours for five years. The trail goes through Forest City, Spindale and Ruth. So much fun. We ride it both ways to get in a 28-mile ride, enjoying a nice lunch at one of the cafés along the way
The next rail trail we rode was the Swamp Rabbit that goes from Travelers Rest, SC into downtown Greenville, SC. We have been impressed watching Traveler’s Rest transform, due in part to the Swamp Rabbit. The town underwent an incredible face-lift five years ago. Not just the bicycling-related venues, but coffee shops and cafés, gift shops, etc. A whole new curb appeal has emerged. Communities have sprung up along the trail. We think people who work in Greenville are choosing homes located within bicycling distance from their place of work.
When we retired seven years ago, bicycling wasn’t on our radar. But now, it has become an important adventure to us, more so than other activities. To us, rail trails, and biking trails in general, are about community. This is what we, our friends and our neighbors have witnessed. It is so exciting to watch these communities flourish and their residents get reconnected out on the trails. The opportunity to go outdoors and do something active provides a new adventure! For us, getting outside and bicycling on a rail trail is fun and great exercise.
Closer to home, we are very excited about the Saluda Grade Rail Trail. The uniqueness of the proposed trail, of course, is the Saluda Grade itself. Going uphill will be a challenge for even highly conditioned riders. We’ll have to get e-bikes to go up that hill! During its operation, the Saluda Grade was an engineering marvel for railroad aficionados. Post-operation, it will continue the tradition of fascination for riders, joggers, and walkers. The Saluda Grade can continue its history in a new way.
Our hope is that the community of Tryon will also see the Saluda Grade Rail Trail as a unique way to connect to our sister city Landrum, SC. The folks we’ve visited down there are very excited about the trail, and the South Carolina budget already includes several million dollars towards the project.
Mark White and Monika Mayr