HOUSTON – Jim Wiginton grinned as he stepped over the yellow line at the southern gateway to the Tanglefoot Trail in Saturday.
“This is great,” said Wiginton, 88, of Corinth. “Yes, I’m a little tired, but it feels great.”
Tanglefoot Trail Manager Don Locke said, as far as he knows, Wiginton was the first to walk the entire length of the trail from New Albany to Houston.
“The trail has gotten the attention of a lot of cyclists,” said Locke. “I also think those who live near the trail use it regularly to walk a mile or two.
“But as far as I know Mr. Wiginton is the first to walk it from North to South,” he added. “I think it is a great accomplishment.”
Locke was tipped off to Wiginton’s milestone by Jim’s son James. James had a special trophy made for his father and got Locke to present it. Saturday’s event was also witnessed by Jim’s wife and several cyclists along the trail.
Wiginton was quick to point out he did not walk the entire trail at one time.
“I walked from whistle stop to whistle stop and from town to town,” said Wiginton. “I usually got someone to drop me off and we usually made a dinner date out of each stop.”
Wiginton made the final and longest walk Saturday, with the 10-mile trek from New Houlka to Houston.
“I really do think that may be the prettiest part of the trail,” said Wiginton. “It is more rural and there is a place where the trees reach over the trail that is just gorgeous this fall.”
Wiginton said he worked for Sears & Roebuck and his office job always prompted him to stay active on the weekend.
“Get you a good pair of shoes, dress for the weather and just walk until you get tired,” said Wiginton. “No, I can’t do what I could when I was younger, but I do think this walk forced me to do a little more than I thought I could.”
Wiginton said he will now try to get his wife and a few friends to make the trek.
“It was a lot of fun and I got to meet so many people by walking,” said Wigington. “I’ve done the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, S.C., but it is only 13-miles and this is so much prettier and it’s in our back yard.”
The Tanglefoot Trail is a 44.5-mile asphalt bike/pedestrian path stretching from Houston to New Albany. Whistle stops along the trail have been built at Ingomar, Ecru, Algoma and Houlka.
Houston’s gateway will be built north of the old railroad depot and south of where the railroad crosses U.S. Highway 8 in Houston.
Tanglefoot Trail has an estimated economic impact of as much as $4.8 million for Northeast Mississippi. The trail is expected to see up to 100,000 users each year.