*Support your Trail - Many people are unaware that the trail is not maintained by county or state workers, but by volunteer effort. Some of these events are major fundraisers for the volunteer maintenance of the 10.5 miles of trail that runs through Westmoreland County.
*Meet people from many areas, locally, regional and internationally - People come from all around the southwestern Pennsylvania region, other states, and from international locations to enjoy the scenery along the Youghiogheny River and embrace its beauty.
*Recreation and exercise – good for your health or training for future rides or walks.
*Help with an event such as Trail Appreciation Day or the Poker Run.
*Help with event planning, organizing, event execution, raffles and a variety of vital support duties.
*Assist with Trail Maintenance (see next column)
*Become a Volunteer Trail Monitor. Monitors are trained volunteers who report trail conditions, clean up trash/hazards and offer help to visitors where necessary. Your duties as a monitor would be to provide a presence on the trail. You would offer information to trail users and provide assistance to trail users as needed. Contact 911 for any medical emergency and/or provide any medical assistance you feel competent in providing, assist with mechanical problems to the extent you are competent, and report trail conditions such as downed trees or washouts.
The most important job of a trail monitor is being a good ambassador of the trail systems by helping to provide a safe, friendly environment for fellow trail users.
*Attend monthly meetings, held every third Monday of the month, 7 pm, West Newton Station.
To Volunteer contact firstname.lastname@example.org
*Meet our Over The Hill Gang (picture below), a group of dedicated members who work tirelessly to maintain the trail. This group carries on the tradition started in 1995 of providing high quality maintenance of, and improvements to, the WYTC section of the Great Allegheny Passage.
*Throughout the 2017 season they prepared the WYTC section plus a one mile section of the Whitsett (Fayette County) section for resurfacing. This entailed removal of all tree limbs that were within 20 feet of the trail surface and removal of all gates, gate posts and safety bollards. That allowed for resurfacing equipment to easily apply the new crushed limestone surface without interference from tree limbs and surface obstructions. The resurfacing, covering a total of 11 miles, was done in late October through early November.
*In addition to the resurfacing prep, the Over the Hill Gang also performed the routine maintenance chores of trail surface repairs, grass cutting, weed whacking and installation of trail amenities, such as covered picnic tables. In 2018 the "Gang" will go about installing new gates, posts and safety bollards.
*The Over the Hill Gang holds organized work parties every Wednesday morning at 9:00 am from March through November. More help is always needed. The 2018 season presents a long list of jobs. Along with installation of the new gates, etc., a long list of other special projects and routine activities need to be done.
Anyone with an interest in helping out, even if only for a couple of hours a week, should contact the WYTC at email@example.com, or the Regional Trail Corp. office at 724-872-5586.
The 2018 maintenance season started with the reinstallation of the gates, posts, and safety bollards that were removed in 2017 to allow for the resurfacing of the WYTC section of the trail. New gates and new wooden posts were installed, and new safety bollards installed where they had yet to be placed. That considerable chore was made easier by using an auger attachment for our mini-excavator. All the gates, etc. between Collinsburg and Whitsett were replaced.
No sooner was the gate project done when the rains started. The excessive rainfall caused many minor and two major landslides either onto the trail or into drainage ditches. One slide was on the riverbank near the Allegheny County line which required a special PADEP permit and substantial funding to complete. Through a grant from the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation approximately 2 miles of drainage ditch was cleaned. The river side landslide was completed with WYTC funds. The WYTC mini-excavator was used extensively to clean drainage ditches making use of a new 36-inch ditching bucket. The heavy rains caused erosion of the surface of the trail in several places, not once, but several times. Repair work to eroded areas continued until late November and will continue in 2019.
In late October and into November we obtained used utility poles from the West Penn Power training facility near Jeannette, PA where a WYTC member, Scott Shoff, is a lineman trainer. All the troublesome post and rail fencing at the Smithton trailhead was replaced with the utility poles. They act as a barrier to access to the trail by motorized vehicles and will require little maintenance.
An Eagle Scout prospect, Ryan Patricio, started the renovation of a P&LE railroad signal light near Buddtown. He will complete the project in the spring of 2019. One amenity added to the WYTC section in 2018 was a Fixit bike repair station near the West Newton Station. Another was the installation of two measured mile markers between Buddtown and Collinsburg (near P&LE mileposts 32 and 34) which can be used for accurate calibration of bicycle odometers. Funding for the Fixit Station was through the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) in honor of ATA founder Linda Boxx. The measured miles were precisely measured by Senate Engineering using sophisticated distance measurement equipment with funding through her foundation, the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation.
Major new equipment purchases in 2018 were the auger, brush cutter and ditching bucket attachments for the excavator. They add needed flexibility for the various work that must be done. Altogether, the cost of maintenance equipment, supplies, equipment repairs, maintenance building utilities, and excavating contractors was in excess of $50,000 for the year. Thanks to all the grant organizations, the corporate sponsors, registrants at our fundraising events, members and other donors who helped to fund the WYTC maintenance efforts. Our goal is to have a well-maintained trail that will be attractive to users seeking a good recreational experience and will help the local economy through the dollars those users spend in local businesses.
Thanks to every one of the Over the Hill Gang maintenance crew for their time, efforts and dedication to our work. We are consistently recognized as the best maintained section of the trail.
Picture by Bonnie Lockschmidt
Pictured left to right are Jim Logan, Charley Carey, Tim Aaron, Jim
Lockschmidt, Franklin Reese, Jack Zewan, Kent Banas, Chris Denne, Keith Frid,
Bob Hand, Jerry Andre.
Regulars not pictured are Ralph Malocchi, John Hixson, Sam Cover, Ozzy Osborne
Picture by Bonnie Lochschmidt.
If you wish to join this group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Aaron cutting up a large downed tree near GAP MP 107.5 (I70 Area). Nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon (2018-09-23)! Thanks!!
Over the Hill Gang member Tim Aaron watches as West Penn Power trainees load utility poles that will be used as vehicle control devices at the Smithton trailhead. Thanks to WYTC member and West Penn trainer Scott Shoff for making the arrangements.
Repairs being made to river side landslide near GAP MP114.5 October 10th.
Tim Aaron doing the hard work while cleaning out a drainage pipe at GAP MP111.5.
Jim Lockschmidt cutting a gate post to the proper length at the King Trail Access Area in West Newton
A cyclist walks over a temporary bridge near GAP MP112.5. It is safe to ride over.