By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
Hikers, runners and those who just enjoy a walk through the countryside are invited to join a celebration Saturday morning in Park City to commemorate the connection of two bike-hike paths — the 9-mile Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail and the 1-mile Park City Bicycle and Walking Path.
The celebration will begin at 10:45 a.m. at the historic Mentz Hotel, which is the new home of the Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science or BRIMS, on Ky. 255 in Park City with brief remarks followed by a ribbon cutting and the release of runners and riders at 11 a.m.
According to a Mammoth Cave National Park press release, the Kentucky Department of Transportation provided the connection by including a lane for bicycles and hikers in its reconstruction of the Interstate 65 underpass at Exit No. 48.
“The trail has been about 10 years in the making and we truly appreciate and applaud the Kentucky Department of Transportation for providing the connection link,” said Mayor David Lyons in the press release. “Hikers and bicyclists can now travel the route of the old Mammoth Cave Railroad all the way from Bell's Tavern and the Mentz Hotel in Park City to the resting place of Engine No. 4 and its combine car near the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center.”
Park City resident Charlie Hogan came up with the idea to create a bicycle and walking trail in Park City.
“I wanted to do something for my little village,” Hogan said. “Actually, it just sort of came to me. Like I could be eating a hamburger, [and I would think] why don't we blacktop all these alleyways for a bicycle path.”
The path has a lot of history tied to it, such as the train tracks that were once used by the Mammoth Cave Railroad and Bell's Tavern.
“It's a great thing,” he said. “A lot of people use it. A lot of citizens in Park City use it.”
Inside Mammoth Cave National Park, the trail follows the remaining portions of the old berm of the Mammoth Cave Railroad. There are six entry points so that hikers and bicyclists may choose to cover the entire 10-mile length of the trail, the press release stated.
“It's like putting history back together,” said Bruce Powell, acting superintendent for Mammoth Cave National Park in the press release. “Park City and Mammoth Cave share a common history related to the Mammoth Cave Railroad, which operated between the two entities from 1886 to 1931. Now a recreational trail will tell its story.”
Also on Saturday, tours of the Mentz Hotel, BRIMS' new home, will be available.
“There's been an interest from the public of wanting to come in and see what it looks like on the inside,” said Liz Thomas-Hook, executive director of BRIMS.
The historic hotel is being renovated to accommodate the museum.