It took 20,000,000 gallons of water less than an hour to carve out a path from South Fork to Johnstown in 1889.
It has taken years to duplicate the feat in the 21st century, but thanks to Steve Coy of East Conemaugh Borough, it is finally finished.
Working nearly three hours a day every day or, in Coy’s words “every free hour that I have,” he was able to realize his lifelong dream of a walking path from Franklin to the Staple Bend Tunnel. This fall, the dream will be fully realized with the official opening of the Path of the Flood Recreation Trail. While the entire trail covers about
10 miles, it was a two-mile stretch that was especially perplexing.
Trail planners originally wanted to continue the trail along private roadways in a former railroad bed, but two businesses use those roads, making
it impractical. So Coy found a solution that will benefit many in our region. He got a Butler County company to donate use of a bulldozer and operator to smooth over a path. But Coy didn’t stop there, he also got free use of equipment from East Conemaugh and Franklin boroughs, along with Kenneth Zimmerman’s excavation business in Mineral Point. Phoenix Services LLC, one of the businesses that uses the private roadways, donated hundreds of tons of gravel for the trail service.
Coy paid for the fuel used in the equipment out of his own pocket, but people started donating money along the way.
“It started off just me, but I got a lot of help from the community,” Coy said. “It definitely was a community effort.”
What a fantastic example Coy is for our region. He found a project that he was passionate about and did everything necessary to accomplish his goal. He included his family members in the project and
urged others in his community to get involved. It took plenty of hard work, as most projects of this magnitude will, but others noticed his efforts and joined him.
Coy’s perseverance has paid off, not just in something that will benefit him, but that thousands of others in our region can enjoy as well.