Building a 14.9 mile hiking and biking trail stretching along railroad lines from Jim Thorpe to Tamaqua is expected to cost $1.5 to $2 million.
The results of a $40,000 feasibility study on the Panther Valley Heritage Trail were released Tuesday by Robert H. Hosking Jr., environmental services manager for McTish, Kunkel and Associates.
The money for the trail would be in the form of grants from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and/or the federal Transportation Enhancement Program.
The study was paid for by a group that included the borough of Lansford, the Carbon-Schuylkill Industrial Development Corp., the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, and funds secured by state Rep. Keith McCall, D-Carbon, and state Sen. Ray Musto, D-Luzerne, with a matching grant from the state Heritage Park Program.
The first choice of alignment of the trail, which would take travelers on a trek through anthracite culture and history, would include 5.9 miles in Schuylkill County and 9 miles in Carbon. The trail would extend through Walker, Tamaqua, Coaldale, Lansford, Summit Hill and Nesquehoning.
The trail would pass historical sites, including coal mine tunnels, mine breakers, a site of a mine cave-in and the Moser Log Home in Tamaqua — the first house in the community.
The trail, with a packed stone surface, would be for hikers and bikers.
McTish, Kunkel and Associates said in the study that the trail would be a popular recreation area for residents and also draw tourists.
The trail would begin in Walker Township, just west of Tamaqua along Route 209. It would go through the six municipalities to the western end of the Nesquehoning Trestle.
The trestle is south of the confluence of the Lehigh River and the Nesquehoning Creek, the study says, and extends northeast across the Lehigh to the state park.
When completed, the trail would link two larger trails — the 165-mile-long Delaware and Lehigh that runs through Jim Thorpe with the Schuylkill River Heritage Trail that runs through Tamaqua toward Philadelphia.