The Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust Inc.
and the Town of Clinton, Mass. announce the acquisition of the Mass Central Rail Trail, Clinton
Clinton, Mass.— 06/21/2021 — The Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust, Inc. (CGCT) and the Town of Clinton announce the acquisition of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Clinton from the Boston & Maine Railroad. The purchase was completed on Dec. 18, 2020, with funding from several organizations, including the Clinton Home Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, the Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust, and a MassTrails grant. Several years in the planning and negotiation stage, this project can now move to the trail design and development phase.
“The Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust deserves the thanks of every Clintonian for its tireless work on making this acquisition happen. I’m thrilled that the Select Board was able to help in its small way and can’t wait for people from Boston to Northampton and beyond to enjoy this trail and see everything Clinton has to offer.”
Sean Kerrigan, Chair, Clinton Select Board
“The CGCT is grateful for the support of the Town of Clinton, MassTrails, the Clinton Home Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Central Mass, and our many members and supporters. We think that this project will be a great benefit for the Town of Clinton. We look forwarding to connecting with all of the communities on the Mass Central Rail Trail.”
Chris Ebstein, President, Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust
“After so many years of patient perseverance, the town of Clinton and CGCT have not only purchased the tunnel but have begun to make progress on making the tunnel safe for families to explore. This tunnel will become the iconic signature of the Mass Central Rail Trail. The MCRT is not only the longest developing rail trail in the northeast, but the most complicated one. However, the complications will be worth it because it is the most important rail trail in the region too as this project connects to over a dozen other rail trails. “
Craig Della Penna, Executive Director, Norwottuck Network, Volunteer Coordinator for the Mass Central Rail Trail Coalition
Background: Over the past few decades, multiple organizations have been working across the state to convert the rail bed of the former Central Mass Railroad into the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT) — a 104-mile trail that runs from Boston to Northampton (masscentralrailtrail.org). The Clinton section of this trail has one of the most interesting features of the MCRT as it includes a 1,110-foot tunnel and abuts the Wachusett Reservoir. The history of the Clinton section also makes it remarkable, as the original path of the Central Mass Railroad ran through what is now the Wachusett Reservoir. In addition to the engineering feat of the Wachusett Reservoir Dam, this project required moving the railbed. The new path of the railbed ran over 917-foot trestle bridge which towered 133 feet above the Nashua River and carried the railroad into the tunnel.
The acquisition of the trail also connects two pristine town-owned parcels of open space — the Maffei Conservation Area and Rauscher Farm. The trail passes through the open space around the Woodlands Development. All of these are connected to the DCR Watershed area around the Wachusett Reservoir.
Development of the MCRT is making progress in many sections of the trail, with 51 miles completed and open. For more information, visit masscentralrailtrail.org.
Immediately to the west of Clinton, trail development is being coordinated by Wachusett Greenways. To the east, Hudson and Berlin trail advocates are organizing to proceed with development of the sections of the rail bed in their communities. Sections in Wayland and Weston were opened in 2019.
Next steps for the Clinton section:
The train tunnel was neglected from the time the railroad ceased operation in 1962. An inspection of the tunnel prior to the acquisition confirms that with remediation the tunnel is suitable for a shared use path. The tunnel will be temporarily closed to the public while design and remediation are completed.
Additional planning and design to develop the railbed into rail trail is in progress. This includes improvements in access to the trail, fencing/guardrails around narrow sections, and benches for a quick rest on a walk or to observe the wildlife adjacent to the trail. An unimproved section of the trail is expected to be available for walking later this year.
Benefits to the community:
Studies of similar cross-state trails have demonstrated the economic benefit to host communities. A 2012 study of the Erie Canal Trail, published in July 2014, determined that visitor spending generated approximately $253 million in sales, 3,440 jobs, $78 million in labor income, and $28.5 million in taxes in the Upstate economy each year. We hope that this trail generates interest in the many attractions of Clinton, including our museums, restaurants, and shops.
How you can help:
Join, donate, or volunteer at clintongreenway.org.
Our progress to date would not have been possible without the tireless support of our members, volunteers, the Clinton community, and the broader Massachusetts trail community. Generous donations of time and money are contributing to the success of this project.
About the MCRT:
The Mass Central Rail Trail has been identified as a priority project of the Commonwealth of Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation since the Commonwealth Connections Greenway Vision was developed in the early 2000s. The organizations that represent the communities along the trail have coordinated efforts through masscentralrailtrail.org. Every few years, these groups gather at gold spike events to provide updates, share best practices, and generate enthusiasm for the trail. The current numbers on the trail:
104 miles total
51 miles open as rail trail today, with an additional 44+ miles owned by a protecting agency.
19+ miles in unclear ownership, but with alternative paths identified for some sections.
About the Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust Inc.
The Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust Inc., a land trust based in Clinton, MA, is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of open space. The organization’s charter provides protection for, awareness of, and access to the open spaces in Clinton. Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2000, the CGCT is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 publicly supported organization. As such, donations to the CGCT are tax deductible.
About the Town of Clinton, Mass.
Situated at the eastern edge of central Massachusetts, Clinton began as the Mill District of Lancaster. By 1848 unprecedented growth in the population and industry enticed local leaders to separate from the “Mother town.” After two years of negotiations, the Town of Clinton was incorporated on March 14, 1850. Since that time, Clinton has grown into a regional hub for commerce and culture, with nearly 14,000 people now calling it home.
Contacts for this press release:
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust
Frannie Hodge, chair CGCT Trails Committee
Town of Clinton
Sean Kerrigan, Chair, Clinton Select Board