Town to unveil $10M sites, trails master plan

For the Gazette

The Town of Guernsey is completing a comprehensive master plan to improve trails and tourist facilities in the Guernsey area.  The Guernsey Historic Sites and Trails Master Plan presents a vision for our pedestrian/bicycle network and other facilities to help residents and visitors appreciate the deep history of our area while enjoying new recreational trails.

One component project, the US-26 pedestrian underpass, is scheduled for completion this spring.  Other projects may take place in a few years, and still others will take decades to materialize.

Guernsey will hold a special Town Council meeting and public involvement session on January 23rd at 6 p.m. at Guernsey Town Hall.  Consulting staff from Western Research and Development will present draft master plan components and answer questions from the public.  Opinion surveys will be available and public comments are very welcome. 

A major purpose of the Master Plan is to find ways for residents and visitors to reach area historic sites by foot, bicycle or wheelchair, on paths that are safely separate from motorized traffic.  Community leaders expect the trail network will be enjoyed by local residents for many decades to come, and also become part of the Guernsey visitor experience - increasing tourism revenue and providing local employment.

Concepts for proposed trails and facilities were developed with assistance from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, the Wyoming Military Department, and the National Park Service (NPS). 

The US National Park Service has listed the Oregon Trail section from Fort Laramie to Warm Springs as a segment offering the best visitor experience. 

During the Master Plan study, Guernsey State Park Superintendent Todd Stevenson escorted staff from the National Park Service’s National Historic Trails, Intermountain Trails Division in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a tour rom Oregon Trail Ruts to Register Cliff. 

Examining options for connecting these two historic sites,   National Historic Trails staff was impressed with the Guernsey corridor and agreed that a pedestrian trail connecting the two sites would is a timely project, and a useful, valuable improvement.

Guernsey area’s deep historic and archaeological heritage is earning broad national recognition.  Hell Gap, now a National Historic Landmark, chronicles nine different Paleoindian cultures stretching back to 11,000 BC, along with later “Archaic” and “Late Prehistoric” native American cultures. 

Our rich local history includes the Astorian explorer camp from 1812, the John C. Fremont camp from 1842, the Fort Fetterman-Fort Laramie military road, the Oregon, Mormon and California National Historic Trails, Child’s 1850 Cutoff through Hartville, the Pony Express National Historic Trail (1860-1861), the Fairbank copper smelting town of 1881, the Hartville-Sunrise mining communities, the Wyoming & Colorado Railway, Downtown Guernsey, and the more recent Camp Guernsey buildings and CCC Camps from the 1930’s which left our beautiful architectural heritage at Guernsey State Park. 

Public input on the Master Plan is welcome.  Guernsey Community Development Coordinator Sarah Cowan is heading up the study for the town. 

The Project Manager at Western Research and Development is Ed Waddell, who can be reached at 307-632-5656 or [email protected] 

Interested citizens are welcome to offer ideas for the plan at any time, or come to the meeting on Tuesday, January 23rd.

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