The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County (FNRT-MC) recently resurfaced 2.5 more miles of rail trail at the West Franklin end of the rail trail extending its length that much closer to the ultimate goal of Concord, N.H.
Thanks to a recent N.H. state Recreational Trail Program grant, the city of Franklin and lots of volunteer help, the rail trail in Merrimack County now reaches from the Grafton/Danbury town line to Webster Place in Franklin, a full 25.3 miles of wide and smooth rail trail with no more than a 1% grade change throughout.
It takes a lot of hands (volunteer and paid), planning and good luck to convert an old rail bed into a 4 season rail trail. FNRT-MC volunteer Chris Norris of Andover was the point person responsible for coordinating all the players on the ground for the two phases of the trail extension. He worked with Dick Edmunds of R. D. Edmunds & Sons who won the contract for delivering stone dust for this project and members of the Lakes Region Snowmobile Club who helped by cutting brush along the trail to Webster Place prior to phase one.
Phase one consisted of grading and compacting the ballast or large rock surface in preparation for the stone dust. Both phases were done with the assistance of Durgin & Crowell Lumber Co. Inc. of New London as provider of the heavy equipment for the project, Ed Larpenter as grader operator, Ed Hiller and Tim Norris as compactor operator and backup operator, and Franklin resident Taffy Johnson as volunteer coordinator of the truck receipt collectors. Franklin FNRT-MC Board members Nita Tomaczewski submitted and managed the grant (and hauled trash) and Steve Rayno helped address a challenging bridge problem.
With approximately 9 more miles of rail trail building to go, FNRT-MC is hoping to finish the job beginning with a major fundraising effort. Anyone interested in assisting either with trail maintenance or fundraising is encouraged to contact the organization at email@example.com.
Photo credits: First picture is of the R.D. Edmunds truck unloading stone dust followed by the grader operated by Ed Larpenter. The second picture is of two volunteer truck receipt takers Taffy Johnson and Susan Sinclair of the Webster Lake Association. Both photos were taken by Alex Bernhard of FNRT.
The other two pictures are before and after photos of the rail trail surface taken by Lindy Heim also of FNRT.