Since starting my career with Virginia State Parks there has never been a dull moment. Tuesday, June 26, 2012 proved to be one of those days that are filled with excitement. The official opening of the High Bridge at High Bridge Trail State Park took place. The park was filled with local and state officials who alongside park staff, neighbors and other partners celebrated the opening of this historical structure. Keynote speaker Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech, said “High Bridge has been an iconic landmark in this region for nearly 200 years and it will now become an attraction that serves Virginians from across the Commonwealth.”
Doug Domenech, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, was keynote speaker
at the opening ceremony.
For me, one individual in particular stood out amongst everyone for his dedication and love for the park and its surrounding communities and that person was Eric Hougland. Eric is the park manager of High Bridge Trail State Park and over the last four years he has been eating and sleeping the development of the park. And I must say he has done a magnificent job. He will admit that he couldn’t have done it without the help of park staff and the many partners from the surrounding committees and he’s right. But it was his leadership skills that lead the way.
Park Manager Eric Hougland addresses crowd at the park's Bridge Opening Ceremony.
For many, the ceremony served as an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishment as well. The Friends of High Bridge Trail has been there from the beginning helping park staff with volunteer efforts and raising money to purchase the Willis W. Vail glass negatives from which photographs tell the story of the 1914 steel viaduct construction. Representatives from the many communities that are neighbors of the park were able to gather together to celebrate what has become one of the economic engines for tourism and recreation in that area. Officials from state government, Virginia State Parks expressed their gratitude for the community incredible support for the development of the park and the bridge. Most importantly it was a day for park staff to pat each other on the back for a job well done. And no one did a better job of patting each and every one of us than Eric Hougland. Cheers to a job well done.
Representatives from the many communities that are neighbors of the park joined together to cut the ribbon to officially open the bridge.
A crowd estimated to be 300+ people met at the Cumberland County side of
the bridge for the opening ceremony.
Facts about the bridge and park: High Bridge is more than 2400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River and provides walkers, bicyclist and equestrians a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscapes of Cumberland and Prince Edward counties. The bridge has three observation overlooks. The overlooks provides places for parks guests to enjoy these incredible vistas from the bridge. High Bridge Trail is a 31-mile track rails to trails conversion and runs through Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties and the towns of Burkeville, Farmville, Pamplin City, Prospect and Rice. The park may be contacted at 434-315-0457 or by email.
Entrances– Parking availability:
- Rice's Depot Road, 1/4-mile off U.S. 460 at Rice, near trail milepost 142
- River Road, three miles off N. Main St. in Farmville, near trail milepost 146
- Osborne Road, 1/4-mile off N. Main St. in Farmville, near trail milepost 149
- Municipal lots in Farmville where the trail intersects with Main St. near trail milepost 150
- Tuggle Road, off U.S. 460 and near U.S. 15 North, near trail milepost 156
- Prospect Road, off U.S. 460 at Prospect, near trail milepost 161
- Elam, off U.S. 460 at Sulpher Spring Rd., near trail milepost 164
- Heights School Rd., of U.S. Business 460 near Pamplin, near trail milepost 168