The Appalachian Trail that stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt Katahdin in Maine has turned out to be a real boom to the communities and towns that lie on or near its route. After doing the camping and hiking thing for what seems weeks, it has turned out that many want to “take a break” along the route by either eating locally, or cheating by lying between cool white sheets on a nice firm mattress. (Beats sleeping in a mountain lodge with twenty or more strangers snoring around you!) They may even break into the local shopping scene.
And as been demonstrated by Tom Ryan, the most dedicated aren’t slowed down by the onslaught of winter.
Well, Newburyport has found itself in a very envious spot very much as if we were located on the Big AT. It is fine that we are located near the confluence of Route’s 495 & 95 and Route One. We are often so much easier to get to compared to places such as Concord or Salem and except for rare occasions; we are less likely to have traffic that stretches for miles like they do in the Cape Cod Area. It is this ease of travel that has helped us offset the disadvantage of being so close to sales-tax free New Hampshire.
Each is an opportunity to draw in more and more visitors – the key to our affluence and future and for continuing our prosperity.
By being aware of each route, we can adapt to the travellers needs as they pass through Newburyport.
The first trail is a natural one, The Atlantic Flyway that has been going on for time immemorial. The great bird migrations along the Eastern Seaboard has caused the Parker River Wildlife Refuge and our Common Pasture; to be one of the key attractions by a large group of flightless birdwatchers. Their visits to the Greater Newburyport Area has long been a source of revenue by the locals with our lodging, restaurants and shops. We even service their needs by the Bird Watcher’s Store and the Audubon’s gift shop.
The second one is the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. This one is hugely important because we lie at its gateway. The other end is in Lynn. (except for taking a train, difficult to get to that gateway!) Those who travel this route are a mixed bag of antique browsers, art enthusiasts, casual tourists, cultural tourists, heritage tourists and that uniquely twentieth-century invention brought about by the car, the day tripper. Instead of being a visitor’s after-thought on an itinerary, we’re now the starting gate. The city needs to increasingly cater to this new boon.
The third trail is constantly in the news, the Border to Boston Trail. Once a pipedream by some over-enthusiastic bicyclists and city planners; it has slowly been taking shape with Newburyport sporting a finished product with the contribution of the Clipper City Rail Trail. Riders haven’t waited for it to be finished. A sea of spandex has been riding the routes – a boon to those savvy lodgings and restaurants (and coffee shops, inconvenience stores and ice cream stands) along the route. In the next few years, the volume travelling down from New Hampshire and from the south will steadily be increasing allowing for locals to profit from the new influx. Dark siders have smirked for years at bike paths but even they won’t want to shirk off the dollars as more “green” is generated by our visitors.
The Final and newest trail is even more grand in design than any other trail project and brings visitors with even deeper pockets (of cash), more dedication and, as they travel up the way; even more remote from their supply lines. They will need to eat, shop and sleep along the way; and as they pass through our town, word of our city will spread. This Appalachian Trail-like route is called the East Coast Greenway. It stretches from Key West to the border with Canada and our humble Clipper City Rail Trail and Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh & Ghost Trail have been linked into it. When it was initially conceived, most of the route was on-road and so the preference has been that as they travel up our country ways, veering near Maudslay State Park and then end up crossing the Chain Bridge. They would then go up Rabbit Road and on to New Hampshire. Now, recently, because of the work done by Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury; the route has shifted into the historic city. As you bike or walk along the rail trails, you will now see the symbol posted everywhere along this route announcing this new reality.
WE ARE NOW ON THE MAP!
This means new exposure for our visitors to our city and services. Only 25% of the Greenway is off-road and so much work has to be done by the many states along the way. Massachusetts has dedicated itself to finish as much as possible their section of the route.
It is this private-public partnership of dedicated non-profits, government and individual volunteers that has made the Border to Boston Trail and now, the East Coat Greenway possible.
All these trails will be of little use to Newburyport unless we learn to capitalize on them.
As we do, more prosperity will come our way. As for me, I am hoping, this will beat The Curse with more fame spreading about Newburyport.