Rails to Trails conversions are gathering steam around the country. In northwest Ohio, we may be ahead of the curve. The Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association has been in operation for about 20 years. NORTA was founded in 1991 as the Friends of the Wabash Cannonball Trail. In 1992, they incorporated as Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association, Inc.
NORTA operates as a private non-profit organization driven by volunteers. It owns the portion of the Wabash Cannonball Trail that runs through Henry, Fulton, and Williams counties. Members of NORTA were instrumental in the original acquisition of the abandoned railroad corridor that had been operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad. Over several years, the volunteer group worked diligently to prepare the Wabash corridor for use as a recreational trail. Ongoing group activities include clean-up days, fundraising, landscaping, and light construction.
The focus of NORTA now is to promote the development and operation of the Wabash Trail within the counties where it has ownership. They do the same work on the segment within Lucas County. Meetings are held regularly and a newsletter is published quarterly. As a non-profit organization, funding comes primarily from donations, memberships, and fund-raising events. The group receives occasional grants from the National Trails System, a division of the National Park Service.
Edward Snyder, president of NORTA, is a regular participant in TMACOG activities and serves on the Executive Committee, the Finance, Audit & Administration Committee, and the Pedestrian & Bikeways Committee. He says, “TMACOG membership provides us a forum – not generally available to a small non-profit – to network with the leaders of the communities that the Wabash Cannonball Trail passes through and near. Our connection to these communities allows us to not only understand the others’ needs and concerns but to connect so we can work together on projects of mutual interest and benefit.”