Who are the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail?

Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc. are a not-for-profit corporation, made up of Trail users, dedicated to converting the abandoned Pumpkinvine railroad corridor into a linear park and greenway. The organization depends on volunteers to carry out day-to-day work required to achieve short- and long-term goals. Donations fund ongoing operational costs.
The Friends purchased the Pumpkinvine railroad corridor in 1993 and donate the land to local park departments after design and engineering are complete, and the land is ready for trail construction. See Managing Agencies for a list of trail managers.

The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is connected to the Maple City Greenway in Goshen which in turn connects to the MapleHeart Trail and creates a extensive trail network. 

Friends still own a small portion of the abandoned railroad corridor which they continue to maintain. Additional responsibilities of Friends are:
  • Land aquisition
  • Marketing, promotion and fundraising
  • Surveying trail usage
  • Maintaining this website
  • Coordinating volunteers
  • Providing grant funding for projects, materials, amenities, etc.
  • Convening the Pumpkinvine Advisory Committee that coordinates trail management.

Our History

The Friends: 30 Years of Persistence

For 100 years, the Pumpkin Vine Railroad transported people and goods, locally. But in November of 1980, the the railroad ceased its operations. Around the country, railroad operations were on the decline, and forward-thinking individuals were making plans for the future of these long-connected corridors.
  • 1975

    Elkhart County Park Master plan (1979-83) includes Pumpkinvine as possible linear park.

  • December 4, 1989

    Ad hoc committee of Ervin Beck, Norm Kauffmann, John Kolb, Chet Peachey, and John Yoder meet to discuss promoting a linear park on Pumpkinvine right-of-way. Galen Kauffmann joins the group next month.

  • March 11, 1992

    C.J. Yoder, Chuck Lehman, and John Yoder evaluate the Pumpkinvine's condition.

  • May 1992

    Ad hoc committee incorporates as Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc.

  • June 3, 1992

    Friends sign option to purchase with Penn Central.

  • March 11, 1993

    Jim Brotherson attorney with Chester, Paff, and Brotherson, Elkhart law firm, offers to represent the Friends of the Pumpkinvine pro bono. He recruits Jim Byron of Thorne, Grodnik, Ransel, Duncan, Byron, & Hostetler to his legal team.

On December 4, 1989 five individuals gathered together in Goshen, to discuss promoting the creation of a Trail along the abandoned Pumpkin Vine Railroad right-of-way, then owned by Penn Central Railway Inc. The idea was spurred both by Elkhart County Park's 1978 Master Plan to include a possible trail along the Pumpkinvine right-of-way, and the experiences of several of those original members in the 1980's, biking similar paths in Illinois, Wisconsin and the Netherlands. The opportunity to have something similar locally was clear, however the idea was met with  significant resistance from local governments and adjacent landowners.
  • October 22, 1993

    Penn Central agrees to sell Pumpkinvine corridor for $100,000. Friends raise $60,000 and borrow $40,000 to reach that goal. Eighty-five individuals and businesses contribute $500 each to be recognized as trail founders.

  • December 22, 1993

    Friends and Penn Central have closing at Schrock Pavilion in Shanklin Park.

  • January 13, 1994

    Friends file lawsuit on Pumpkinvine corridor between SR 4 and CR 28 to determine ownership.

  • September 2, 1994

    Judge Worth Yoder rules that the Friends own Pumpkinvine corridor from SR 4 to CR 28. Friends and Goshen Parks determine to make this 1.75-mile section a linear park demonstration section.

  • July 1995

    Friends file lawsuit to determine ownership of the Pumpkinvine corridor on eight-mile section of the Pumpkinvine corridor between US 20 and CR 850W in LaGrange County.

  • October 4, 1997

    Norm Kauffmann resigns from Friends board to become Shipshewana town manager.

  • June 14, 1999

    Friends of the Pumpkinvine donate 1.75 miles of Pumpkinvine between SR 4 and CR 28 to the City of Goshen.

The first 10 years were slow moving, as few were able to grasp the benefits of local trail development. It was not until March of 2000, that the first 1.5 mile section opened in Goshen. In the next 20 years, eight more segments are completed, totaling 17 miles of path. 

  • March 2, 2000

    First 1.5-mile section of the Pumpkinvine between Wayne St. and Bristol Street opens in Middlebury.

  • September 17, 2005

    Half-mile section of the Pumpkinvine between Wayne St. and Bristol Street opens in Middlebury.

  • June 6, 2009

    Grand opening of 3.3 miles of the Pumpkinvine between CR 28 to CR 33.

  • October 8, 2011

    Grand opening of 5.5 miles of the Pumpkinvine between Middlebury and Shipshewana.

  • June 2012

    1.4-mile section of Pumpkinvine between CR 35 and CR 37 is completed.

  • October 5, 2013

    Ribbon cutting for Pumpkinvine from US20 to Wayne St. in Middlebury.

  • June 15, 2019

    One-mile section of the Pumpkinvine between CR 33 and CR 20 opens.

  • May 2, 2022

    Ribbon cutting from 850 W into downtown Shipshewana

  • September 26, 2023

    Final half-mile section between CR 20 and CR 35 in Middlebury opens.

The Pumpkin Vine Railroad

Pictures of the Pumpkin Vine Railroad, many of them taken in 1918. The two color photos were taken in the 1970 to 1980 around the time that railroad operations ceased.



Recognition & Awards



At the Indiana Greenways Conference, March 1997, the Friends received the Private Non-Profit Award in "recognition of efforts in Greenway development.


In appreciation of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail for outstanding contributions to the Town of Middlebury Park Board: Linear Greenway Park.


February 21, 2012, The Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc. received the 2011 "Quality of Life Award" from the Shipshewana Town Council at the Retail Merchants Association annual banquet. Roger Yoder, president of the Town Council who presented the award, said the award was in recognition of the positive impact the Friends of the Pumpkinvine had made to improve the quality of life for the residents of Shipshewana by championing the creation of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. 


On Dec. 5, 2013, the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc., received the “2013 Community Service Award” from the Goshen Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s annual dinner. The award was in recognition of the Friends "contribution to Goshen’s Quality of Place.” In accepting the award, John Yoder, Friends’ president thanked the Goshen community for taking the lead in supporting the Friends in their efforts to create the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. It is very gratifying to receive the award, he said, “but the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing so many people enjoying the trail.”


On February 25, 2014 at the Indiana Greenways Foundation’s annual luncheon in Indianapolis, the Friends received the foundation’s “Outstanding Trail Group” award for 2013. The Greenways’ awards are presented “to those individuals, communities, corporations and projects that have exhibited outstanding excellence in advancing greenways, or multi-use trail development throughout Indiana. Categories include Outstanding Public Official, Trail Advocate, Trail Group, Corporation, Trail Project and Local Government.”


On March 13 at their annual dinner, the Friends received the Beautification Award from the Middlebury Chamber of Commerce. “Each time a new section of trail opens, as two did in Middlebury this year, I’m impressed again with what a good idea it was to recycle this old railroad corridor into a linear park. It is a beautiful ribbon of green through town. One new section brings us into town through the U.S. 20 tunnel from the south, where we can enjoy the serenity of an urban forest and wetlands, while entering town from the east on that new section, we are greeted by the Dairy Queen, which after a hard ride, has a beauty of its own.” -  John Yoder

Board of Directors

Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc.


Jared Beasley


Diana Lawson

Vice President

Cory Wilson


Melissa Vought

Board Member & Administrative Manager

Doug VonGunten

Board Member

Roger Miller

Board Member

Becky Bontreger

Board Member

John Ferguson

Board Member

John Liechty

Board Member

Dave Weaver

Board Member

Rick Jenkins

Board Member