Manor Moments

Lebanon Valley Rail Trail Expands

July 2019

The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) is a National Recreation Trail and wonderful asset in Lebanon County. The rail trail goes from the southwestern border of Lebanon County and goes through Colebrook, Mt. Gretna, Cornwall (connects the Buckingham Campus to the Woods Campus), and the city of Lebanon. At the southern border of Lebanon County the LVRT connects with the Conewago Recreation Trail and continues for another 5.0 miles. The trail is partly built on the old Cornwall–Lebanon Railroad created by industrialist Robert Coleman in the 1880s. The trail runs 19 miles, and there are many phases in development that would extend the trail to northern Lebanon County and Jonestown. The trail features a packed stone path and paved path at many parts that traverses “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” and other scenic routes. Trail users see untouched woodlands of state gamelands, forests, and views of area fields and farms. The trail is maintained by dedicated group of volunteers, and allows for running, walking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

Recently, a new 1.8 mile section of the Rail Trail in West Lebanon that opened the last week in July. The new section of trail starts at 25th Street near Union Canal Tunnel Park and travels north and west to Long Lane in North Lebanon Township. The new section can be seen as a dotted line in the left portion of the map.

The trail is open for bikers and pedestrians, but a more official ribbon-cutting is planned for mid-September.  

Construction on the new trail, which cost over $2 million, began during the fall of 2018. The trail in Lebanon County now totals roughly 19 miles, with more phases currently in planning stages.

LVRT History

The Cornwall-Lebanon Railroad was built with $1.2 million in the 1880s by the rich socialite Robert H. Coleman (who owned and operated the Cornwall Iron Furnace and lived in the Buckingham Mansion). The railroad was used to carry passengers from Mt. Gretna, an extremely popular resort community of the time. Later the railroad was used to transport the Pennsylvania National Guard from their camp near Mt. Gretna. As time went on the railroad service stopped, which resulted in the rail being purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This group continued use of the rail up until the powerful Hurricane Agnes devastated Lebanon County in 1972. Until the purchase of the track in 1999 the rail had certain sections that were unused. Other sections were purchased by private individuals or used on the original property in which the right of way was leased. The Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails, Inc. purchased the rail line and began construction of the LVRT.