Sign unveiling to honor late Sheltowee Trail founder

Published 1:06 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

On Sunday, the bridge on Kentucky Route 974/Kiddville Road will be designated the “Verne G. Orndorff Memorial Bridge.”

The bridge is over the Mountain Parkway at mile point 20.849 in Clark County.

The signage will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum.

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Verne Orndorff worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forestry Service, according to a press release. He served as a landscape architect for the Daniel Boone National Forest where he designed and laid out trails to scenic overlooks and vistas.

Orndorff also established the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, according to the release. The trace goes through Kentucky and spans over 200 miles from Tennessee to West Virginia. The trail opened in June 1979.

After Orndorff’s death in June 2016, a legacy fund was established to honor his vision, according to the Sheltowee trail website. The legacy fund is an endowment fund where donations will be held in trust and the interest earned on the endowment will be used to continue the work and vision of Orndorff.

Steve Barbour, executive director of the Sheltowee Trace Association, said the fund was meant to honor Orndorff’s emphasis on the “long-term.”

“He was about a long-term thing,” Barbour said. “We thought we should focus our efforts not just on today, but on tomorrow and the tomorrows afterward.”

The legacy fund is designed to help the Sheltowee Trace Association prepare for down the roads and ensure the trail remains open and accessible for future generations, Barbour said. The association raised more $20,000 this year.

Thousands of people hike some portion of trail every year, Barbour said.

Barbour said the Sheltowee Trace Association formed about nine years ago. Since its inception, the association has valued Orndorff’s perspective and sought his input, Barbour said.

“(Orndorff) would talk to you for hours about (the Sheltowee trail),” Barbour said.

Barbour said the association got the original information about the trail that Orndorff had written down. Throughout the last years of Orndorff’s life, Barbour said he and Orndorff would keep in touch.

“He was always grateful that someone was picking up the weeds…and taking care of something that was extremely important to him,” Barbour said. “He never saw it as his legacy. He saw it as something he believed in, saw it as an opportunity for Kentucky to have a long trail of its own… Even the last time I saw him, he was certainly an inspiration to everyone there.”

The Sheltowee trail is the spine trail that a lot of other trails in Daniel Boone National Forest connect to, Barbour said. The trail starts about 25 miles north of Morehead and ends around Oneida, Tennessee.

The trail got its name from Daniel Boone. Boone was given the name “Sheltowee” meaning “Big Turtle” by the Shawnee Native Americans. The name hints to Boone’s large stature, and how he often moved slowly, Barbour said.

Barbour said the association is currently working to expand the trail, working to make the Sheltowee a connecting path to other major trail systems.

The association is in place to make sure the trail is there for the next 100, 200 years, Barbour said.

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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