Newton Blackmour Trail now open to New London

Children riding their bikes through the banner officially opened the Newton Blackmour Trail on Sunday, Aug. 2. - Photo by Rick Cohler

Children riding their bikes through the banner officially opened the Newton Blackmour Trail on Sunday, Aug. 2. More photos at www.advertisercommunitynews.com/ACN Galleries. – Photo by Rick Cohler

With children riding their bikes through a banner at Lake Park in Shiocton, a more-than-decade-long project to create a trail from Seymour to New London was met with applause and cheers. Even a 93 degree day didn’t stop about 100 people from turning out for the celebration on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Conversations began in 2003 about converting the Canadian National right-of-way into a recreational trail.
It was not an easy task. The Black Creek shooting range needed to be moved, and the large Shiocton range needed massive changes to keep riders safe. Negotiations with companies and work on the railroad bridge over the Wolf River needed to be completed along with the usual funding issues which often delayed progress.
The 24-mile trail connects the cities of New London and Seymour, via the villages of Black Creek and Shiocton. East of Seymour, it links to the Duck Creek trail, which extends into Brown County and will eventually connect to Pamperin Park in Green Bay. There is an added benefit to the Newton Blackmour. While most state trails require the purchase of a daily or annual trail pass, Kelly Raleigh Moses, DNR northeastern district trail coordinator said there are no plans at this time to charge for using the trail.
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson pointed out that 2015 is the 50th anniversary of Rails to Trails in Wisconsin, with the Elroy-Sparta Trail being the first such trail in the nation.
“There is just one trail that is being dedicated this year and it’s right here in Shiocton in the heart of Outagamie County,” Nelson told the crowd.
Leaders from the communities on the trail are looking forward to good things.
“I think it’s going to mean a good economic boost,” New London Mayor Gary Henke said. “Bicyclers spend a lot of money and it’s going to be great.” Henke said efforts will continue to get the trail into downtown New London.
Shiocton Village President Nancy Brownson said. “This trail means a lot to Shiocton. It joins us to our neighboring communities. Everybody can to see what we have here for our Lake Park Association. There’s a big buzz in the businesses. It’ll bring all the snowmobilers in because they can use the trail and it will be good for business.”
Black Creek Village President Steve Rettler: It gives people a chance for more exercise, hiking and biking. People love it because there’s someplace other than the sidewalks to walk.
Seymour Mayor Judy Schuette said she can remember when discussions of building a trail began with the railroad.
“I especially hope cyclists will stop in Seymour and visit our museum and the Home of the Hamburger Display, the Veterans Memorial and the Railroad Depot on the trail. You will see Hamburger Charlie welcoming you to Seymour.”
Rob Guske, president of the Fox Cities Cycling Association, is pleased to see the trail open, especially since it is separated from traffic. “The majority of people want a safe place to ride that’s separate from traffic. It gives families a place to ride.”
A number of riders took the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Newton Blackmour.
“Anytime you put trails in it’s a wonderful thing. It gets more people out enjoying nature,” Greg Steiner, Appleton, said.
Terry Dawson, Appleton, rode the trail from Black Creek to Shiocton. “It’s pretty nice,” he said. “It’s a nice trail in good condition. On a day like today it’s a little hot, crossing these open fields. Every time we came to a tree with a little shade we decided it was a good time for break. We need more of these around here. It’s going to be good for the county and good for the communities.”