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Dunbar sets sights on Trail Town designation

| Saturday, June 13, 2015, 12:51 a.m.

When the B&O Railroad constructed an offshoot rail line near Dunbar Borough, it was called the Sheepskin track because when trains trundled by, sheep would scatter out of the way.

That was in the 1890s.

Today, that 2.1-mile section of rail line has been converted into a bike trail with no sheep in sight — but the name stuck. A branch of the Great Allegheny Passage, the Sheepskin Trail links Wheeler Bottom with Dunbar Borough and there are plans to extend it south to Point Marion, near the West Virginia state line.

Trail enthusiasts are welcome to attend a Trail Town Program Monday, which will include a trail walk and discussion of the path's extension to Point Marion. The event begins at 1 p.m. at Dunbar Historical Society on Bridge Street, and will be headed by Will Prince, director of The Progress Fund, based in Greensburg.

The goal is to name Dunbar a trail town. As such, the borough would be eligible for advice and in-kind (matching) funding for money to further the GAP's network — a series of trails that currently extends from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md. At Cumberland, it joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which is open to Washington, D.C.

Connellsville is one of eight Pennsylvania Trail Towns that receives advice from The Progress Fund — a program that has been mutually beneficial to the city as well as the GAP. After the Dunbar visit, Prince said The Progress Fund will visit Point Marion.

The main idea is to foster a trail network of at least 1,600 miles — and spur economic development.

After 20-plus years, Connellsville is seeing new business growth from the trail, which passes through Yough River Park and West Side on its way to Ohiopyle State Park in the form of restaurants, bed and breakfast lodging and others.

Those interested in Monday's meeting should show up at 1 p.m. at the Dunbar Historical Society. Call 724-277-4949 for more information.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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