Updated: Apr 2, 2020
“Thank goodness for people with dreams” – Bill Weller, President of the Allegheny Valley Trails Association.
A former professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, James E. Holden (Jim) volunteered 25 years to the development and advocacy of bicycle trails, and conservation of land. He was a leader and an educator on these subjects not only in his home located in northwestern Pennsylvania, but across the Commonwealth and beyond.
An avid cyclist, in 1990, Jim learned that Conrail was looking to donate miles of abandoned rail line in Venango County. Jim recognized the importance of acquiring the rail corridor and converting it into a recreational trail for the region. This was the beginning of a 25-year trek of volunteering uncountable hours to develop rail trails, with the eventual vision of a fully connected trail from Erie, PA to Pittsburgh PA.
The founding President for the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance (EPTA), Jim remained an active on the Board, as well as the President for the Allegheny Valley Trails Association that owns more than 60 miles of paved trail, until his passing in 2013.
Yes, “thank goodness for people with dreams,” because through Jim’s dreams and his dedicated years of volunteerism to trails, from the stance of a visionary, developer, teacher, and advocate his goals did not fade with his passing; it is his vision for the future that continues to be the foundation for trail projects along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail (EPT).
The EPTA at its April 2019 meeting approved to put into motion the “90 by 90” Campaign a goal of having 90 percent of the EPT complete on off road routes by 2029, Jim Holden’s 90th birthday. This goal not only moves the EPT to 100% completely connected off road trail, but it also celebrates the person who had this vision, and infected others with his passion to see the project complete.