Salisbury Ghost Trail Opens to Public

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) joined Representative Michael A. Costello and Town of Salisbury officials today to celebrate the completion of the Salisbury Point Ghost Trail, a key link in the regional Coastal Trails Network. Begun in 2007, and completed in multiple phases, DCR recent 2011 award of $50,000 in grants allowed the trails completion.

DCR funds for the first phase of this project in 2007-2008. Both 2011 and 2007’s grants are part of the series of Recreational Trail Program (RTP) grants DCR has awarded to more than 400 worthy trail projects statewide since 1993. In addition to the awarded grant funds, the Town of Salisbury contributed $24,561 in matching funds to complete the project.

“DCR has an on-going commitment to enriching the recreational opportunities available to people throughout the state,” said DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert. “Through programs like the Recreational Trails Program, we strive to enhance the trail user’s experience and improve the quality of life for all residents of Massachusetts.”

The scope of the first RTP grant included extending the Salisbury Point Ghost Trail from its current terminus at Cushing Street to Lion’s Park, Salisbury’s main recreational facility, and to Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh Trail, that runs south to Newburyport and north to New Hampshire and is part of the Board to Boston and the East Coast Greenway.

The second grant allowed for major improvements and expansions. Approximately 2,665 linear feet of abandoned railroad bed were improved and a new 330-foot trail connection to a recreational facility and its parking area were built, to allow for greater recreational access. Completion of this portion of the rail trail will allow for the use of 1.8 additional miles of trail from Lion’s Park to Rabbit Road, allowing residents to avoid the busy and potentially dangerous Route 110.

“The completion of the Salisbury Ghost Trail section of the Coastal Trails Network is an excellent example of a partnership among government, passionate citizens, and a generous business community,” said Representative Michael Costello. “Five years ago, I walked the old rail bed with local officials and then DCR Recreational Trails Director Paul Jahnige. DCR responded with $100,000 for the project. I want to thank Commissioner Lambert and his staff for once again being great partners. We’re one step closer to connecting Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury to this incredible trail system.”

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds the RTP grants that allow for such beneficial acts of partnership between national, state, and local agencies. RTP grants are awarded to communities, non-profits, and state agencies annually and are funded though the FHWA Recreational Trails Program. Each grant recipient matches its grant with at least an additional 20% in cash or in-kind services.

The Ghost Trail in Salisbury does not have the truly paranormal beginnings its name promises. The trail is actually named in honor of the spectral “Ghost Trains” that once traveled between Amesbury and Salisbury, then on through Newburyport to Boston. In the late 1800s, Salisbury Point, Salisbury Mills, and Amesbury became carriage-making capitals of the country. When wooden carriages and, later, early automobile bodies were shipped via train, factory workers covered the cargo with white muslin cloth. When the trains passed through what is now the Ghost Trail, the white-shrouded forms could be seen gliding along the rails at twilight, much like ghosts floating along as darkness fell.

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