In the midst of winter it's always interesting to look back at some of the points of history of the Great Allegheny Passage.
A significant event took place on 05 January 1990. On that date the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE) contacted State officials in Harrisburg that the company hoped to seek abandonment authorization from the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The P&LE was planning to close the tracks from Pittsburgh to Connellsville, PA. The letter was passed on to the Director of the PA Bureau of State Parks and he in turn passed the news along to officials in Allegheny County.
This came as welcome news to cyclists in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Many people were watching the expansion of the Yough River Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. Likewise talk in Somerset County to build trail on the abandoned Western Maryland Railway land was generating excitement.
From the opening of the first section of the Yough River Trail in Ohiopyle State Park from Ramcat Hollow to Ohiopyle in 1986, cyclists in Pittsburgh dreamed of an easy connection to that trail. As the Yough River Trail (later it would be named the Great Allegheny Passage) extended north toward Connellsville, PA the first suggestion for access was to have a weekend excursion train on the P&LE line. The plan was to have a special train carry cyclists and cycles from the P&LE Station, now Station Square, to Connellsville where they would unload the bikes and ride on to Ohiopyle and Confluence. Trains would return to Pittsburgh Saturday and Sunday evenings.
The excursion train never got on track. However, with the abandonment of the P&LE the Regional Trail Corporation formed and purchased the right-of-way as soon as the ICC approval was granted. The RTC purchased the land 2 years later in February of 1992 and the new trail, the Yough Trail North from McKeesport to Connellsville, was underway.