The Friends of the Chessie Trail is a network of groups and individuals interested in maintaining and promoting the health of the Trail and its surroundings.
The Friends serves primarily as a communications network between and among interested groups and individuals who are supporters, neighbors, and users of the Trail, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Groups communicating through the network can notify each other of events they are sponsoring on the Trail, collaborate in group activities, and support each other’s work.
The Friends of the Chessie Trail also serves to inform members and the public of work being done on the Trail under the stewardship of Virginia Military Institute and to foster good relationships between Trail users and the neighbors of the Trail.
The Trail was created on land deeded to the Nature Conservancy by the C&O Railroad in 1978. Much of it lies along the old rail bed of the C&O between Lexington and Buena Vista. The railroad had acquired it from the James & Kanawha Canal Co., which in its heyday operated the canal system from Richmond up the James and Maury Rivers as far as Lexington.
The Trail passed from the Nature Conservancy to the VMI Foundation, and in turn, to the stewardship of Virginia Military Institute itself. The Trail is a public right-of-way, but it passes through private lands for much of its 7 ½ miles, and those who enjoy the Trail are reminded and requested to be respectful of adjoining lands, especially where livestock is present.
Mission: The mission of the Friends of the Chessie Trail is to foster strong communications among Chessie Trail stakeholders, to advocate for the community’s vision for the Trail, and to organize citizen support for a well-maintained and safe Trail.
Vision:The Friends of the Chessie Trail have a vision of an accessible, well-maintained, safe, and continuous trail, connecting the communities of Lexington, Rockbridge, and Buena Vista, to each other, to their local history, to the natural world, and to trails beyond. The trail supports the health of the community and the local economies through recreation and education, and it provides an alternative transportation pathway and ready public access to the Maury River. It preserves the historic railroad route, is a landscape where native flora and fauna thrive, and is enjoyed by users with a wide range of interests and abilities. A vibrant community of trail supporters works to maintain and improve the trail in a spirit of cooperation with trail users, neighboring landowners, local governments, and Virginia Military Institute in its role as trail owner.