LINCOLN – There will be a dedication and celebration on Oct. 3 in Rushville for the construction of bridges and benches built along two sections of completed Cowboy and Recreation and Nature Trail in Sheridan County.
The public is invited to the 7:30 p.m. dedication at the Rushville American Legion Club, 206 Sprague St. State Sen. Al Davis, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Director Jim Douglas and Commission Chairman Dr. Kent Forney will speak at this event.
Three miles of the Cowboy Trail in the communities of Gordon and Rushville, including three bridges and benches, have been completed, with a crushed limestone surface, thanks to the efforts of Cowboy Trail West, Inc. and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
They are the first completed sections of the trail west of Valentine. When eventually completed, the trail would span 321 miles from Norfolk to Chadron. The 195-mile span of trail from Norfolk to Valentine is complete.
Cowboy Trail West, Inc. is a community group of volunteers that wants to help Game and Parks develop the western portion of the trail, especially the connection between Gordon and Rushville in Sheridan County.
Work on the project began in the summer of 2013 with Cowboy Trail West, Inc. cleaning up railroad ties and trash on the right-of-way in areas around Gordon and Rushville. Game and Parks contracted ballast removal to start preparing more of the corridor for trail surfacing with crushed limestone. The three miles of surfaced trail was funded with the profits from the salvage of the ballast as agreed to by the Commission and the contractors. Twelve miles of trail between Gordon and Rushville have yet to be surfaced.
Game and Parks provided the materials and Cowboy Trail West, Inc. volunteers provided the labor and this summer built the bridge decks and benches. The volunteers also hauled away more than 60 truckloads of discarded railroad ties.
The most recent data show almost 20,000 annual users of the Cowboy Trail, which is the nation’s longest rail-to-trail conversion. The trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in the National Trails System in 2001. Game and Parks is working on a new management plan to involve communities along the trail to actively promote the recreational use and habitat restoration along the trail.