Case Studies

Jim Thorpe, PA.  Source:
Jim Thorpe,
a Revitalization Success Story

Roy Keeler of Progress Pennsylvania says it best (quote from his post below): 
"Originally, what is now Jim Thorpe was a railroad and coal-shipping center.  Like many Pennsylvania towns, Jim Thorpe found itself on the downside of post-industrialization and languished for many years.  Becoming Jim Thorpe was the first attempt to boost the local economy...  
Today, Jim Thorpe is a bustling small town that has become a destination using its natural surrounding, its heritage and some good marketing...

Downtown Jim Thorpe is full of restaurants, bars, boutiques and stores of all kinds.  No empty or blighted buildings.  Everything is clean and neat.  There is signage everywhere so you can find your way.  There is plenty of cheap parking…you have to pay but it is only a few dollars for the day.  There is plenty of foot and vehicular traffic coursing through the downtown."

Duncannon has many similar assets to Jim Thorpe.  It is also a railroad town, a river town, a mountain town and a historic town.  Only the Appalachian Trail also runs right through it...

Damascus, Virginia - "Trail Town USA" 

In the small town of Damascus, the expansion of trail-related tourism has meant the difference between a community struggling with population loss and vacant storefronts and a town that now has multiple bed and breakfasts, six restaurants, two outfitters, a coffee-shop and scarce empty retail space as businesses catering to outdoor recreation enthusiasts have opened for hiking, fishing, biking, horseback riding and hunting.

Local fiscal impacts attributed to trails and tourism development include:
  • Local business tax revenues increased 56% in 5 years – from $23,000 in 2003 to $45,000 in 2005, then jumping to $52,000 in 2008 when most towns were experiencing a downturn. 
  • Food and lodging tax also jumped from $42,000 in 2001/2002 to $104,150 in 2007/2008.
Also important to the local economy is the Appalachian Trail, which crosses directly through Damascus' downtown. The town is host to an annual Trail Days event, a three-day festival each May that attracts tens of thousands of visitors and hiking enthusiasts from around the country. 
Known as the friendliest town on the trail, Damascus has seen many successes in using its existing historic and natural assets to diversify into recreation and tourism-based industries. The trails have not only transformed the commercial district, but have also become a source of community pride and identity. Equally important to the residents and out-of-town visitors is the success in balancing economic growth with preservation of the small-town character and surrounding scenic natural landscapes.

Newport Revitalization and Preservation Society

Newport, PA in Perry County formed the Newport Revitalization and Preservation Society (NRPS) in 2002 with the purpose of preserving the heritage and history of Newport and its environs and enhancing their town's future and community spirit.

NRPS is a 501(c)(3) voluntary organization of individuals and businesses who have joined together to enhance the commercial, financial, industrial, civic and aesthetic interests of the Newport community.  Funding comes from memberships, fund-raising, contributions, corporate support, state grants and funding, and private foundations.  Some NRPS accomplishments include assisting the Borough in obtaining federal funds for Newport's Streetscape Enhancements Plan for improvements to the town square and implementing the Buy a Brick campaign to raise funds for Streetscape Enhancements.

Successful Trail Projects in other Rural Communities

Canalside Rail Trail in rural community of Turners Falls, MA
Millersburg, PA Riverfront Gateway Park

Swanton Rec Path Bridge Opens (Swanton, VT)