Community members and elected officials worked together to clean up parts of the O&W trails on June 5.
SULLIVAN COUNTY — National Trails Day kicked off in Sullivan County at the entrance to the O&W rail trail on Main Street in Hurleyville on Saturday.
Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante welcomed all of those in attendance, including Sullivan County Rotarians, legislators, town supervisors, State Senator Mike Martucci and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
“Today is a day when we can express our gratitude,” Vegliante said. “After such a trying period, as we navigate the fear and danger of this global pandemic, we can gather here. We can celebrate both our accomplishments as well as our goals.”
Gathering at the entrance to the “Milk Train Trail” at 218 Main Street in Hurleyville, the event showcased one of the more developed sections of the O&W rail trail system in Sullivan County. Totaling 5.4 miles, including 3.5 miles of paved walkway, this multi-use path connecting Hurleyville to South Fallsburg attracts visitors all year round.
“This portion was purchased, renovated and is now maintained by the Town of Fallsburg through its strong partnership with the Center for Discovery,” Vegliante said. “The rebirth of this trail coincides with the rebirth of this hamlet.”
The Milk Train Trail represents only part of a larger effort to connect communities throughout the county with new recreational opportunities while paying homage to the history of the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad.
Vegliante said that the Fallsburg Town Board is committed to renovating the entire section of trail from Mountaindale to the Liberty town line, including the addition of a bridge over the Neversink River utilizing the original location of the O&W Railroad trestle.
“When completed, this approximately 13 miles of trail will be part of the county-wide regional trail system that will both attract visitors and tourist dollars to our community, but also provide our diverse community a place to walk and bike, all the while enhancing our physical, mental and emotional connection with our nature and its beauty,” Vegliante said.
Vegliante thanked the Center for Discovery for their ongoing commitment to Hurleyville, as well as Assemblywoman AIleen Gunther and Sullivan Renaissance in providing $450,000 of leverage funding in the form of the Golden Feather Award.
“We must thank former Senator Jen Metzger for an additional SAM grant of $200,000, and I want to specifically thank our current Senator, Mike Martucci and his staff, for continuing their support,” Vegliante said.
According to Sullivan County Historian John Conway, when the railway arrived in Hurleyville in 1870 it linked the small, isolated farms to a market in New York City to sell their goods. By 1900, Sullivan County was shipping 15 million gallons of milk to New York City each year, hence the nickname of the trail today.
“Really without the railroad, and without this very line that we’re standing on today, this community would not exist,” Conway said. “As a historian, I find it particularly appropriate that we stand here today and that the rail trail, the thing that gave birth to Hurleyville in the first place, is now playing a significant role in the rebirth of Hurleyville.”
Freda Eisenberg, President of the Sullivan O&W Rail Trail Alliance and Sullivan County Planning Commissioner, spoke of their vision to build out and connect the different sections of the O&W Rail Trail across Sullivan County.
After the kickoff ceremony, volunteers and trail enthusiasts across Sullivan County gathered at various trail heads for clean up efforts, picking up trash and clearing downed trees from the trailways.