Lincoln Boyhood plans trail improvements

Photo courtesy Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Facebook page

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

LINCOLN CITY — A popular trail at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is slated to receive a facelift that will make it easier to maneuver, cheaper to maintain and deepen its connection to its roots.

The Allee Trail is a landscaped, tree-lined walkway located directly opposite the entrance to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and Park Visitor Center in Lincoln City. Its creek-gravel path leads to the Nancy Hanks Lincoln gravesite and a 120-foot-tall, steel flagpole.

A 12-step staircase is currently part of the roughly 2,000 foot trail — an obstacle that Facilities Manager Jim Teague said can be a deterrent for guests with limited mobility.

“The staff at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial are committed to ensuring the park is welcoming to all visitors,” Teague wrote in a statement. “We also wish to be relevant in the local community and an integral part of the local tourism economy.”

In the proposed changes, that staircase would be replaced with a circular, sloped path that ramps up the hill to connect the east and west portions of the trail. The trail’s gravel base would be replaced with an all-weather surface, such as flat concrete or concrete pavers, that matches the current color of the trail.

The endeavor will be funded by the National Park Service. Teague said the funds are in place for the design portion of the project, and he feels very confident that it will move forward.

A public open house will be held at the local memorial’s visitors center at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, Sept. 5, to solicit comments on the trail project. According to a multiple-phase timeline provided by Teague, project construction is estimated to begin in late 2020 or early 2021, and the work will last approximately three to four months.

Teague spelled out all of the memorial’s goals in a modification project description. They are: to provide an accessible surface and eliminate the concrete steps; formalize the walking and viewing areas to eliminate damage to the surrounding vegetation; incorporate universal design features so all visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the complete trail system; and return the trail system to the original design as envisioned by the first park planning committee.

According to Teague, noted American landscape designer and planner Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. completed a preliminary plan for the site surrounding the Lincoln farm and Nancy Hanks Lincoln grave.

In the report, Olmsted Jr. described his desire to create a simple, timeless, and secluded space within which visitors would be united by their shared feelings about Lincoln.

The original design — which included a rounded, sloped path and not a staircase — was never implemented because the original planning committee could not raise the funds to construct it. The current trail and landscape plan was adopted and built as a compromise solution.

Today, the Allee Trail is currently the most expensive trail in the park to maintain. Annual maintenance labor, material, and equipment cost estimates for trail upkeep and repair, and drainage and sprinkler system maintenance average just under $8,000 per year.

Teague explained that heavy rains wash gravel into the drainage system, the trail needs to be re-contoured at least annually, and the gravel is mined from a finite source. After heavy rains, the trail can often only withstand foot traffic, and even wheelchairs may cause trail rutting.

“By hardening the surface and updating the drainage system, we can eliminate these weather related expenses and use our limited budget to meet other needs within the park,” Teague wrote in the planning document.

He hopes the changes allow more visitors to enjoy the beauty of the trail and cemetery.

“This will be a trail for all people,” he said today in a phone interview.




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