Every visionary project begins with an innovative leader.
A leader with a look to the future, passion for the endeavor, and the willingness to labor endlessly and see the goal is met.
That’s Hank Parke.
In 1986 Hank read a report by Joesph Kupec who hiked the abandoned Western Md. Rwy and written a report extolling the potential for a trail to link Ohiopyle St Park to Cumberland, MD.
Hank gathered a group of people interested in the out-of-doors and cycling and had Mr. Kupec make a presentation. From that meeting, the Somerset County Rails to Trails Association (SCRTA) was incorporated June 1st 1987.
The Allegheny Highland Trail/Potomac Heritage Trail Study considered the feasibility of a trail in Somerset County, and was deemed achievable. Hank’s vision came into focus as a reality.
On 24 April 1992 ground was broken at Rockwood for a trail.
Hank realized that the trail couldn’t end at the Somerset County border so he worked with Maryland groups to complete the trail to Cumberland and make a connection to the C&O Canal Trail.
Finally, Hank saw his vision and efforts on many fronts completed, and in May of 2006, the final nine miles of trail in Somerset County opened with celebrations at the Big Savage Tunnel and Meyersdale.
Of course, Hank Parke was on hand with a huge smile on his face.
Over nearly 20 years Hank held on to his vision of a biking/hiking trail through Somerset County for the residents of the County and for a growing number of visitors from across the U.S. and around the world.
He was also pleased that his work created a facility that spawned new businesses along the trail, helping to grow the tourism economy of his native home, Somerset County.
This story needs an ending, and a short, but appropriate one is simply – Thank You Hank for all you’ve done and everything you are.