About 50 to 60 family members, rail trail fans, dignitaries and at least 5 well behaved dogs attended the FNRT’s Finish Line Celebration at Jamie Welch Park in Boscawen on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Thank you, FNRT President Bob Ward for organizing this wonderful event marking the completion of building the last couple of miles of rail trail on the old Northern Railroad bed in Merrimack County.
The lineup of displays looked fabulous, especially FNRT board member Ellsworth Morton’s handmade case & stand holding FNRT’s collection of honors. Hot coffee and doughnuts were so welcome, thank you Dunkin Donuts of Boscawen. The music by the newly formed N.H. Rail Trail Band was rousing and the programs designed and printed by Charlie Darling, publisher of the Andover Beacon, were classy, beautiful keepsakes. Did you notice the gorgeous print of Lisa Jelleme Miller’s original oil painting of the view of Webster Farm from the rail trail in event publicity and on the program cover? Yes, that was her gift to the rail trail organization. Thank you, Lisa. And thank you, Pecco Beaufays of Highland Lake Inn (one of the rail trail’s two welcome centers) for coordinating the whole event program project.
Wasn’t it wonderful that the Crowell family turned out in force and seemed genuinely pleased with being recipients of FNRT’s highest honor, its golden spike award.
It was so nice seeing other interested parties share in the joy of the moment. Among the rail trail fans that gathered to celebrate on Oct. 4 were folks who represented supporting organizations or contributed muscle, administrative and/or financial support such as Chris Gamache of the NH Trails Bureau (who spoke), Dick Lemieux of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail, one of Kelly Ayotte’s assistants, Larry Keniston of NH DOT, Representative Lorrie Carey, Leon Nelson and Mike Henderson of the Andover Snowmobile Club, Dave Murray of the Boscawen Town Line Trail Busters snowmobile club, Leigh Webb of the Franklin Historical Society, Bruce Crawford and Elaine Clow of the Boscawen Historical Society, FNRT volunteer trail work crew members board member Steve Rayno, Steve Robinson and Ricker Miller, to mention a few.
The displays by the Merrimack River Greenway and the Trails Bureau in addition to FNRT’s handouts were very impressive and fun for folks to look over. FNRT volunteer Kent Hackmann gave away Fall Soonipi Magazines with the nice article about the rail trail in it and sold FNRT ball caps and memberships. The cap tree, made by volunteer John Monto, worked great. Look for the FNRT booth to pop up at area and rail trail events in the future.
The opening remarks and golden spike award were well received by the crowd. After listing all the officials and board members who couldn’t attend, Bob got a good laugh when he mentioned that Daniel Webster also couldn’t make it. Chris Gamache was a lively speaker and got rousing applause when he praised all involved for their work, passion and dedication. He says he heads the only stand-alone Trails Bureau in the country. In all other states, Trails Bureaus are a smaller part of some other state department. He applauded the completion of building the rail trail, a project that has been going on for 10 years, and which he sees his department supporting for many years to come.
Ben Crowell spoke lovingly of his Dad when he accepted the Golden Spike Award on behalf of FNRT’s recognition of his family’s huge contribution to trail building over the years. It was a sweet moment for all of those who remember his Dad, Peter Crowell, who loved building rail trail more than anyone.
And the arrival of Boscawen Selectman Roger Sanborn with his tractor and wagon was a welcome sight for the young people in the crowd and FNRT volunteer Kent Hackmann, who quickly abandoned his position at the FNRT booth to grab a seat.
Many took to the trail on foot or on bicycles after the official ribbon cutting ceremony to finish off the celebration by admiring the last miles of rail trail so recently added to the 31 miles already resurfaced for 4 season use in Merrimack County.