From 1908 to 1954, Thurmont was the "end of the line" for the trolley system that traveled from Frederick to Thurmont. During its hay day in the 1920's, the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway (H&F) carried 3.8 million people per year. However, with great strides in the world of transportation, the demands for the trolley dwindled and the H&F made its final trip to Thurmont in 1954; the tracks were removed and the once busy trail fell into disrepair.
Several attempts were made throughout the years to maintain and improve the area but were not successful often due to lack of funds. The condition of the trail continually declined, the area became overgrown and eroded and eventually it was abandoned. In 2004, as the Thurmont Lions Club was celebrating 75 years of serving our community, they adopted a slogan, "Glimpses of Yesterday, Visions for Tomorrow". At the same time, they were searching for a major community project to commemorate their milestone and highlight their roots in the community. The refurbishing of the abandoned trolley trail into a useful hiking/biking trail became their signature project - a project that truly depicted "Glimpses of Yesterday, Visions for Tomorrow" by embracing a dormant piece of Thurmont's past and transforming it into a vibrant piece of Thurmont's present and future. The Lions quickly enlisted the help of the Office of Soil Conservation who developed water control plans to correct the serious erosion problems and designed bridges that would be necessary for the meandering stream that ran through the one-mile stretch that led from Main Street, crossing over Water Street and continuing on to Moser Road.
After a lengthy planning and approval process and extensive fundraising, the actual refurbishing began in June 2006. On September 30, 2007 the Dedication of the Thurmont Trolley Trail was held in Memorial Park (adjacent to the Trolley Trail) with many dignitaries participating. After more than 850 hours of labor volunteered by members of the Thurmont Lions and other interested residents, four bridges had been constructed, stream banks had been stabilized to correct the serious erosion problems, the trail had been graded, more than 1,800 TONS of stone had been spread, and the community of Thurmont was celebrating their new hiking/biking trail. In May 2007, volunteers from the community, the Thurmont Lions Club, the Thurmont Gardeners' Club, and Boy Scout Troop No. 270 joined together to enhance the appearance of the Trail with bulbs, native plantings and mulch.
A special "THANK YOU" goes to all who helped make this dream a reality: 1) the community volunteers who donated their time, equipment, and supplies; 2) those who provided the much needed funds and assisted with the applications for grants; 3) the Frederick County Office of Soil Conservation (especially Kenny Favorite and Terry Welsh) who tirelessly guided us through the planning and approval process; 4) the staff of the Town of Thurmont (especially Butch West); 5) each member of the Thurmont Lions Club and to 6) Lion Gene Long who led the effort from the very beginning and devoted more than 400 hours to the project.
In June 2009, the natural “art” of the Trail was spotlighted during the First Annual A.R.T.(Arts Revealed along the Trail) Festival. Artists, exhibitors, entertainers and visitors – all enjoying nature and a little piece of country right in the middle of our town. Approximately 500 people attended the Festival and we look forward to the Second Annual A.R.T. Festival already being planned for Saturday, May 22, 2010. Picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles were also added to the Trail during 2009 – made possible by a grant from the State of Maryland, Community Legacy Program.
The members of the Thurmont Lions Club are extremely proud of the Thurmont Trolley Trail and feel a great sense of accomplishment as more and more people utilize the trail. The Thurmont Lions Club and the Town of Thurmont have developed a healthy relationship as they work together to maintain the trail. This project is another example of a small group of people in a small community working together to make a big difference!
The Lions Club continues to accept donations for this cause - tax deductible donations can be made by making checks payable to "TLC Foundation, Inc." and mailing to Thurmont Lions Club, P. O. Box 306, Thurmont, MD 21788 with a notation "for Trolley Trail".