CHICKASAW COUNTY – The
opening of the Tanglefoot Trail in mid October was big news across the community and Northeast Mississippi.
People gathered in Houston and Houlka Oct. 20, to mark the grand opening of the 44.53-mile trail that stretches from Houston north to New Albany. Ceremonies were also held in Pontotoc, Algoma and Ingomar to mark the day.
“I really think tourism will soon pass gaming in bringing revenue to this state,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood at Houston’s ceremonies. “We often want to forget our past in this state and we need to find ways to change that and show people our heritage, our culture and what Mississippi is all about.”
Joyce East, Executive Director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation said people don’t always recognize history in the making and the formal opening of the Tanglefoot Trail was a historic moment for the community.
“On July 4, 1888, a grand celebration was held in Pontotoc when two locomotives came rushing into the depot blowing whistles,” said East. “Records reflect that thousands witnessed the ceremony as Effie Dean Faulkner, daughter of Colonel W. C. Faulkner drove the famous silver spike in honor completion of the railroad.
“It’s now been 125 years and 77 days since that date in July of 1888,” she added. “One milestone has ended and another is beginning.”
Tanglefoot Trail has an estimated economic impact of as much as $4.8 million for Northeast Mississippi. Tanglefoot developers have said the trail could easily see up to 100,000 users each year.
The Tanglefoot Trail stretches 44.5-miles from New Albany to Houston and sports a 10-wide asphalt surface with maintained shoulders the length of the project. Whistle-stops have been constructed in Ingomar, Ecru, Algoma and Houlka. Gateways will be built — complete with parking, restrooms, historic displays and information — in Houston, Pontotoc and New Albany.
The project is partially funded by a $9.6 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Other funding includes $350,000 in state money and a $100,000 trails grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.
Three Rivers Planning and Development District serves as the administrative and fiscal agent for the GM&O District. A representative from each community along the trail serves on the GM&O District Board of Directors.
For more information and the rules and regulations of the trail, visit www.tanglefoottrailms.com.