Several landowners in Elkin were recognized Monday for their part in contributing to the National Park Service and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association’s goal of opening to the public the historic route taken by the Overmountain Men to Kings Mountain for the battle that turned the tides in the Revolutionary War.
While portions of the route already are connected and hike-able, the stretch from Elkin to Wilkesboro remains uncharted territory as far as being publicly accessible, but local OVTA members, the town of Elkin and trail advocates are working to change that.
Adam McComb, Elkin recreation and parks director, reported Monday night to the Elkin commissioners, “I’m proud to say all easements have been signed by landowners and approved by the town attorney.”
The commissioners unanimously approved the easements for several properties within the town limits.
Since 2001, the town and the NPS have been involved in the expansion process for the OVT. In a PowerPoint provided by McComb, he reported, “Originally ‘Trail Certifications’ were provided by landowners to allow the public to walk the trail. The certifications became a ‘Certified Protected Segment’ of the national trail by 2002.”
Those providing certifications in 2001-02 included the town, Interface Fabrics, Galloway Episcopal Church, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Thomasson, Carolyn Parker, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Roth, Holly Neaves Gambill, Michael Neaves, Dr. and Mrs. Skip Whitman, Rich Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Partin and Mr. and Mrs. Leo Colbert.
“Through generous donations from the Wilkes-Surry Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, the town was able to pursue a survey/mapping project to help with establishing the trail and a more permanent trail solution in the form of easements,” said McComb.
The OVT trailhead in Elkin is in Elkin Municipal Park just north of the Elkin Recreation Center building. The trail follows Big Elkin Creek to the Yadkin River then turns west and heads toward Wilkes County.
Two easements already had been approved, those for Galloway Episcopal Church and Kim Arnold. Monday night easements were approved for property owned by Michael and Mary Keller, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Thomasson, Rosa and Caroline Beverley, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Roth, Holly Gambill, Michael Neaves, Dr. and Mrs. Skip Whitman and Rick and Maricela Chatham.
“I really want to thank the landowners,” said John Slaughter, superintendent of the OVT as part of his duties for the National Park Service. “What you’ve done is a gift, it is a gift to America. So many people wish they could do this, that they had property they could donate for a national park.
“It embodies the spirit of what those men did, the patriotic spirit,” he said after the landowners were all presented with plaques by Mayor Lestine Hutchens recognizing their donations. “I tout what Elkin is doing. These landowners have a piece of history in their backyard.”
He recognized their willingness to share the history and their property with others, and pointed out the economic benefits and trail work being done in the Elkin area by trail groups.
“Commitment to a patriot spirit is what’s missing in the country today,” said Slaughter. “What an incredible way to kick off 2016 and the centennial celebration [of the National Park Service] than what you’ve done.”
This year’s planning process for the OVT has been dedicated to working on the trail from Elkin to Wilkesboro to the Kerr Scott Reservoir.
“The best part of my job is what we’re doing ,” he said of the presentation.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.