Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, November 18, 2020

Board Attendees:  Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Ricker Miller, Chris Norris, Steve Rasche, Jack Shields, Nita Tomaszewski.
Loyal Trail Supporters:  Barbara Couturier, Don Moyer, Patrice Rasche

Overwhelming Generosity

The November meeting brought news of an amazing inflow of funds to support the extension of the Northern Rail Trail in Boscawen.  The Board gives thanks for the many supporters of this effort and others.

Business Matters

October Minutes:  Approved, with a note that the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission is not a State agency, but an association of towns under a format authorized by State statute.

Treasurer’s Report:  The Treasurer’s Report showed both a major inflow of funds – largely donated for the Boscawen Trail Extension – and a clean slate of outstanding payables.

In the former case, FNRT-MC finished the month with approximately $84,000 donated and reserved for Trail Extension. In the latter case, $16,300 was paid to contractors to culminate our season of Trail improvements.

Lastly, we are happy to report general donations of about $14,600, which exceed our $14,000 Annual Appeal goal.

Technology Report:  Over the last several weeks, Cathe Lisk, our Technology Coordinator, has revamped the FNRT-MC website at, bringing it up to date and adding new features.  We are grateful for this new look, and urge all lookers to give any feedback.

Project Reports:  All bridge/ditch projects contracted for at the beginning of the season have now been successfully completed, under Chris Norris’ direction, thus leaving the Trail in good shape for the winter.  Chris points out that the decking on various bridges may need attention in the future, a point which will be given consideration in the spring.

The Lawrence Street Tunnel lighting project continues.

Boscawen Trail Extension

Jack Shields — who has been spearheading the FNRT-MC initiative to extend the Trail 0.6 miles in Boscawen to the Hannah Duston site — gave a report on progress to date.  There are three distinct elements unfolding:  financial,  contractual/legal, and physical plans.

As indicated above, FNRT-MC now has approximately $84,000 on hand for the Trail Extension project.  However, other current and expected pledges go well beyond this, to reach a total of $151,000.  Although these pledges take us to the initial goal of $150,000 ($110,000 for right-of-way (ROW) acquisition and $40,000 for construction), it now appears that two bridges may become part of the acquired property, and will require increased funds.  The fundraising effort therefore goes on.

To donate, please visit the GoFundMe site at

The legal and contractual arrangements for the Trail Extension involve a large variety of interested parties, including Pan Am Railways, the current owner of the ROW;  the FNRT-MC;  the Town of Boscawen; and the State of New Hampshire.  Various ownership possibilities are under consideration as the parties move forward in the drafting of a Purchase and Sale Agreement.  It is hoped that this agreement will be concluded soon.

The physical configuration of the property to be acquired from Pan Am Railways varies in character, with widths that at times far exceed what is necessary for a recreational trail.  The Town of Boscawen has a strong interest in developing some of this land for the benefit of its residents and Trail users and is considering such plans.  


In addition, members of the FNRT-MC are actively involved in planning the construction project to extend the Trail, as well as improvements to two bridges at the Hanna Duston site.

New Matters of Promise

One of the nation’s top five:  The most recent edition of the National Rails to Trails Conservancy journal highlighted the Northern Rail Trail as one of the “top five” in the country.  With joy and satisfaction, FNRT-MC urges all to take a look at this testimony to the work of our Trail community:

National Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:  Barbara Couturier has been working successfully to update and publicize information about the Northern Rail Trail on the Conservancy’s website, where the Nation’s trails are listed.  Take a look at our improved description: 

Great American Bike Tours:  We are gratified to find the Northern Rail Trail featured in tours of this organization, and look forward to cooperation with them in the future.  See the Tour site for more information:

New Matters of Concern

Need for Improved Crossing: A subgroup of the Board is now working on possibilities for safety upgrades of this intersection of the Trail with Route 11 and Plains Road in Andover. 

Unexpended Federal Funds:  Alex Bernhard continues his efforts to evaluate a loss of unexpended Federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds in New Hampshire over the last year and will report further in the future.

Erosion and Trail Incursion.  Several members of the Board reported on continued bank erosions within the right-of-way at the gravel pit owned and operated by Lenny Caron in Andover, south of Potter Place.  While this is not the first time such problems have been reported, they remain uncorrected.

Next Meeting

The next regular monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 16, at 5 PM via Zoom.