MOUNT VERNON — When Phil Samuell talked to the Knox County commissioners about the possibility of buying the old Pennsylvania railroad line right of way in the county and turning it into a bicycle trail, the officials were hesitant.
“None of the commissioners had ever seen one,” Samuell recalled. Samuell is a former chairman of the Kokosing Gap Trail organization and was one of the founding members of the group.
Then commissioner Richard Mavis was the first to warm to the idea, Samuell said, and eventually convinced Shirley Fletcher and Donnie Yauger to support the plan.
“We bought the right of way with money from the Alternative Transportation Tax Fund obtained through the Ohio Department of Transportation,” he said. “That fund built a lot of bike trails in Ohio. We obtained donations for the local matching funds.”
The result, in 1991, was the opening of the Kokosing Gap Trail, the 13.5-mile path that runs from Mount Vernon to Gambier and up to Howard and Danville, where riders and hikers can connect to the Mohican Valley Trail.