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Harper Campbell, 5, takes his cycling seriously Thursday on the new portion of the Middle Fork Greenway. Kellen Moore | Watauga Democrat.

Originally published: 2013-04-19 14:35:15
Last modified: 2013-04-19 14:37:02

Portion of Middle Fork Greenway opens

Another piece of the puzzle is now in place.

Dozens gathered Thursday for a ribbon-cutting of the first portion of the Middle Fork Greenway, a path more than a decade in planning.

The paved trail near Tweetsie Railroad is only about nine-tenths of a mile, but members of the High Country Pathways organization say it's only one piece of a grander vision. The goal is to eventually connect Blowing Rock to Boone's Greenway Trail by winding along the Middle Fork New River.

"Good things take a long time," said Anne Burgess, founder of the Middle Fork Greenway Association. "This is a very good thing, so it's taken a very long time."

Burgess, who lives near the New River between Boone and Blowing Rock, became involved in the project around 1999. In talking to neighbors, she discovered that many desired a place to walk and a way to visit with neighbors as past generations did.

"We needed to learn to walk again," she said.

Since then, volunteers have been working to promote the walking and bicycling trail concept.

The group raised $65,000 to conduct surveying and engineering work necessary to allow the greenway to pass beside Mystery Hill and through a culvert beneath U.S. 321 to a three-acre plot donated by Sterling and Barbara Whitener. Other grants and donations also were critical to the project.

"The Whitener family is sort of the keystone to this project," said Bill Hall, president of the Middle Fork Greenway task force.

The group is already thinking about fundraising for the next segment. But Thursday, the thoughts were centered on celebration, as families gathered to talk and ride bikes on the new path.

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