Blairsville Secondary – Ghost Town Trail
A railroad line was constructed between Dilltown and Black Lick in 1904 by a predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad. This line served many coal mines in the valley of the Blacklick Creek. By 1998, the rail line was known to then-owner Conrail as the Blairsville Secondary. The end of rail-served coal mining in the valley led to the railbanking of the rail line in July 1998 and its acquisition by the Cambria & Indiana Trail Council in January 2003. Indiana County then retained Gibson-Thomas to design the conversion of a portion of the corridor from railroad to recreational use.
Phase I of the project extended from Black Lick to Heshbon and was constructed in spring 2005. Phase II of the project continued the trail to a point 2 miles west of Dilltown, where two bridges had been washed out in a July 1977 flood, and was finished in fall 2005. The replacement of these bridges, also designed by Gibson-Thomas, was titled Phase III and was opened to trail users in 2009.
Gibson-Thomas was responsible for developing the construction plans and bid documents for what was then known as the Blairsville Secondary Trail. The trail surface was 10’-0” wide and consisted of aggregate placed on the existing railroad ballast. Fencing, slope stabilization, and ditch cleaning was also included. The trail was opened for use in 2005 and became a part of the Ghost Town Trail. This segment currently serves as a key link in a regional trail system connecting Ebensburg, Indiana, and Blairsville. Future extensions between existing segments will eventually connect this trail system to Pittsburgh.