How it all began
Ernst Trail was originally started when area businessman Calvin Ernst bought an old railroad bed and gave an easement for the establishment of the bike and hike trail. Other people owning land also gave easements along Route 19 for the trail. Guided by the group French Creek Recreation Trail, work on the Ernst Trail started in 1995, but it was not open until 1998, Eglinton said.
Some of the preservation work on the trail now is paid for with a special fund set up to honor Tom McNally, one of the trail’s “founding fathers.” McNally, who died in 2008 at age 57, was a driving force behind the trail’s constant improvements, and he was instrumental in guiding the trail to its current success and popularity.
Although the Share the Road to Conneaut Lake project is one in which plans are to extend the trail to the west, the exact location of the trail has not been determined, according to information provided at a recent Conneaut Lake Borough Council meeting.
Plans for the Meadville connector were scheduled to be presented to Department of Environmental Protection officials this month for their review.
Dick Holabaugh, chairman of Conneaut Lake Borough Council, expressed the wish that perhaps a bird-watching area could be designated because he knows there are many bird watchers in the area.
Eglinton said he knows there are eagle nests in the state game lands there, and he hopes the trail could extend through that area.
Ed Yates, president of Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee, said at the council meeting that John Grossman, president of EG and G, which is handling the work of revitalizing Conneaut Lake Borough, had met with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and was very receptive to the idea of bike trails in the borough.
However, it was emphasized that all the Conneaut Lake plans are tentative, and no work is expected to begin before 2014.