Officials celebrate start of construction on Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail

By Rob Moore Reporter
Posted 4:27PM on Wednesday 6th September 2017 ( 4 years ago )

HELEN — Heavy rain and mud didn’t stop state and local officials from gathering in Helen Wednesday morning for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail.

The 4,400-foot trail along the Chattahoochee River links Helen with the Hardman Farm State Historic Site.

Gov. Nathan Deal spoke of the expected impact of the trail.

“This is a great day for our state, and especially for this part of our state,” Deal told those gathered. “It’s a beautiful area to begin with, and to have this asset will open up for even more people to come and be able to enjoy it. And it’s a great example of partnership between the state, through our DNR, with the local City of Helen and the County of White and other partners that have joined in to make this possible.”

At a cost of about $1.2 million, the trail will feature four interactive, interpretive panels focusing on the history of Helen, the railroad, the river, and the historic site. There will be promenades, arched entries, boardwalks, boulder seating and picnicking, overlooks and parking lots on each end.

“I congratulate all of you, and I think we’ll all be very proud of it when it’s finished,” Deal said.

Before the governor arrived, Helen Mayor Helen Wilkins, White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner and others shared their thoughts with those gathered.

“It’s a naturally gorgeous area, and the state’s going to make it so nice for everybody,” Wilkins said. “It’s going to be handicapped accessible where everybody can enjoy it.”

Additionally, Wilkins announced plans the City of Helen has that will further link the trail and Hardman Farm to Helen.

“I’m proud to announce that we’d like to partner with this venture by putting sidewalks to connect the town right here at the corner and run all the way up here with streetlights,” Wilkins said. “We’re looking forward to helping make this be a beautiful entrance for the walk. We’re excited.”

“Our goal is to make White County a destination point,” Turner said. “And we already are, but we want to grow and expand that. As the mayor, Mrs. Helen, said, this is a truly exciting opportunity. A lot of effort has been going into Hardman Farm over the past year or two to make it a destination point. You’ve got Hardman Farm, Smithgall Woods, Unicoi — these are state properties located in little White County.”

Construction on the project began in August, with completion set for spring 2018.

Gov. Nathan Deal, center, prepares to throw a shovel of dirt at Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking for the Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail. Joining him are, from left, Will Wagner of Hardman Farm, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board members Nancy Addison of Savannah and William Bagwell Jr. of Hall County, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, Rep. Terry Rogers, White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner, Rep. Lee Hawkins, Helen Mayor Helen Wilkins, White County Commissioner Terry Goodger and Jake Gailey of Chattahoochee Group Inc. General Contracting.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams refers to the beauty of the area before introducing Helen Mayor Helen Wilkins during Wednesday's event.
White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner discusses making White County even more of a destination through partnerships like the one linking Hardman Farm Historic Site with Helen.
This display board shows concept designs of some aspects of the 4,400-foot Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail, which will link Georgia's Alpine Village with the state historic site at the corner of Ga. 17 and Ga. 75 south of the city.

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