By STEPHANIE A. JAMES
High Bridge Trail State Park officials have established a new tour to get more people to the Pamplin area.
The tour, referred to as the Go West Tour, occurred for the first time in November and will take place again in April.
The tour is beneficial in getting more visitors to Pamplin as the town waits for the extension of trail to take place.
During November’s tour event, the tour started in Farmville extending to Pamplin, where about nine participants visited such sites as the Pamplin Pipe Factory.
Other tours that the park has hosted include High Bridge and Burks Tavern. On the four-hour tours, park staff do interpretive programs.
The park’s Chief of Interpretation Craig Guthrie said that the tours make people aware of the historical value of those communities and the services they provide.
While staff at the park is planning tours, in the meantime the extension for the extra mile to Pamplin is unknown, said High Bridge Trail State Park manager Reinhardt Gray.
“We are really looking forward to coming to Pamplin City,” Gray said, adding that the trail serves as an economic revenue boost for the areas that it runs through.
The property that the trail is anticipated to extend to is owned by Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
While officials are waiting for things to work out to get High Bridge Trail to the Pamplin Depot, the tours have been helping to attract people to the area.
Along with the Pamplin Depot, the trail has yet to extend to Burkeville.
“We all want the trail to come to Burkeville and Pamplin. It will get more visitors in those areas,” Guthrie said, adding that it is better for those in the community.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Norfolk Southern has to come up with a written deal on how they will work things out to get the trail to the Pamplin Depot.
“The when is the sticking point,” said Guthrie.
Right now, the trail stops at Heights School Road and officials hope to extend it to the Pamplin Depot on Main Street.
Presently, the trail stretches about 31 miles, extending through the communities of Burkeville, Farmville, Rice, Prospect, and Pamplin.
In preparation for trail users, the town has already invested in installing two additional restrooms in the depot so that trail users could have access to them.
Along with restrooms, town officials have looked into other accommodations for trail users.
In October 2010, the Pamplin Town Council voted on a written agreement pertaining to the trail leading to the Pamplin Depot.
In that agreement, it states that Norfolk Southern will forgo an extra mile of track from mile marker 168 and Heights School Road to near mile marker 169.
The trail will come from Heights School Road using the Town's lot and make its way past Tolley's Market, making a left turn up to U.S. 47.
A notch will be cut from the concrete and the trail will be cut through the notch.
The arrangement makes it possible for trucks to come through without driving over active track.
As part of the agreement, Norfolk Southern will grant the required easement "so that the driveway will permit the turning of wood product trucks including full-size semi-trailers so as to align with the wood yard scales."
The setup will be in such a way that it does not interfere with Jenning's woodyard operations on Main Street.
At High Bridge Trail State Park, visitors will not only have the opportunity to enjoy fishing, hiking, biking and picnicking can also become aware of some aspects of Civil War history with High Bridge being the focal point.
The bridge played an important role in Civil War history where skirmishes between the North and the South took place on April 6-7,1865.
The Battle of High Bridge occurred after the battle at Sailor's Creek.
The encounter took place as Gen. Robert E. Lee's army retreated from Petersburg after a siege that lasted more than nine months.
Because rebel forces failed to destroy High Bridge, federal forces were able to pursue them through Farmville to ultimately surrender two days later in Appomattox.
The bridge was originally built in 1850 and was rebuilt in 1905. Construction was completed in 1914.
During the late 19th century and 20th century, trains ran from Burkeville to Pamplin City.
The last train ran July 2005.
In 2006, the trail became possible through Norfolk Southern's donation of 31 miles of abandoned railroad making it possible for High Bridge Trail State Park.
Since 2009, sections of trail have been open in various communities.
People at High Bridge Trail State Park can enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, and picnicking.