By Sheena Barnett
PONTOTOC – A mix of memories and hopes for the future marked the official opening of the Tanglefoot Trail in Pontotoc.
The rails-to-trails project was celebrated on Sunday with ceremonies from Houston to New Albany, and the grand opening ceremony in the middle, in Pontotoc, just off Reynolds Street.
“We were 100 yards from the railroad track. I have so many memories of the railroad track,” said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, who spoke at the ceremony, recalling his childhood in Pontotoc. “We had a resource here, and we decided to make the most of it.”
A host of bicyclists and runners, including members of the Pontotoc High School cross-country team, awaited the ribbon-cutting so they could continue their way down the path.
Sunday’s ceremonies also brought together two iron railroad spikes to signify the completion of the trail. One spike came from Houston and another from New Albany.
“I’m proud to stand here, look to the north and south of the trail, and I can see the future,” said Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford. “This trail is for everybody.”
Pontotoc County Board of Supervisors President Wayne Stokes said he believes the trail will lead to many positive health and economic changes for the area.
“I see economic development,” he said, with the recent addition of a new bike shop in Pontotoc. “And I think we will have a healthier Mississippi.”
Jean Caraway, administrator of recreational trail programs with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, asked that Tanglefoot Trail users appreciate the new site.
“They need to push forward to keep the facilities up,” she said. “This is going to be a cool place.”
Tanglefoot Trail’s 44.53-mile stretch can be reactivated in the future if another railway system needs to come through.
The trail was followed by explorer Meriwether Lewis and later became the route of the railroad built by Col. William C. Falkner, great-grandfather of William Faulkner.
The trail opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset each day.