Community Fundraising Campaign Underway for Pumpkinvine Connection

Brittany ShortConstruction Update, Goshen, Middlebury

Over the past 31 years, volunteers with the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail (FPVNT) have worked closely with Public agencies to convert 17 miles of former Pumpkin Vine Railroad corridor into a multi-use trail and linear park.  And in the last two decades the dream of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail came to life, now being used by over 200,000 cyclists, walkers and runners annually. However, the trail is still not complete, as two major construction projects remain. View a photo gallery of this project here.

One of these projects broke ground in August. An extension into downtown Shipshewana is currently underway, and is expected to be substantially complete by late 2021 (view a photo gallery of this project here). This leaves only a single half-mile gap between Middlebury’s County Roads 35 and 20. At present, trail users must share these very narrow and shoulder-less county roads with fast-moving traffic, to make their way to either Middlebury or Goshen.

“The more popular the Pumpkinvine has become, the more trail users we have seen on these busy county roads. It’s not safe, and it deters many users from fully enjoying the trail,” says Brittany Short, FPVNT Board President.

The Friends cleared a major hurdle in the Fall of 2020 when they acquired the final piece of trail right-of-way for this gap. Since then, they have constructed 650 feet of path, leaving approximately 2000 feet in the queue. While all the necessary right-of-way is owned by the Friends, there are hurdles yet to clear–namely wetland permitting, signed legal agreements, engineering and acquisition of remaining funds. According to the most recent construction estimates approximately $200,000 is left to raise.

“In total, we’ve raised approximately $800,000 for this project,” says John Ferguson, the Friends’ Fundraising Chair. “The entire section is expected to cost around $1 million.”

Ferguson goes on to explain, “For the Friends, the year 2021 has become a year of celebration and commitment. We celebrate that the Trail will soon connect, and we commit to the on-going maintenance and development of the Trail.”

To that end, the Friends recently adopted a 90/10 model to “better align with our intentions of caring for the Trail into the future,” says Ferguson.

Beginning in early 2021, the Friends began allocating 90% of all unspecified investments to Trail construction, maintenance or amenity projects, while the remaining 10% will be deposited into the Friends’ dedicated endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.  The Friends intend that annual payouts from this account will fund ongoing maintenance needs for years to come.

If the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is important to you, we ask that you consider investing in this project.

Checks can be mailed to:

P.O. Box 392 Goshen, IN 46527

or made online through this link.

Phase 1. 650 feet completed in 2021.

Old railroad tie located in the right-of-way.

Abandoned railroad corridor can be seen on the left. This photo is taken looking west on to the next phase of Pumpkinvine construction.