Just as wild have been the estimates of revenue that derives from the trail's existence. If that $3,000,000 figure were accurate, the area would truly be in high cotton. And if frogs had wings ...
Anyway, here's the latest speculation, buried in a story about the dedication of a new pavilion on the trail:
Well, we went from 250,000 to 100,000 visitors a year.
Pavilion along Virginia Creeper Trail dedicated in honor of Abingdon resident
By Amy Hunter, Bristol Herald Courier Reporter
About 40 people gathered at the large wooden pavilion Sunday evening to remember the late doctor. There were several speeches, including touching words from Brillhart’s son, Mike, who said his father enjoyed every aspect of the trail – hiking, biking, and taking pictures of the beautiful country through which it winds.
The trail has an economic impact of about $1.5 million per year for Abingdon and has grown tremendously in popularity since it opened. It begins near the new pavilion and travels 34 miles to the North Carolina line.
More than 100,000 people use the trail each year. (link)
And $1.5 million rather than $3 mil.
Probably still high but we're getting closer.
If 40 people gathered at the pavilion to participate in its dedication on Sunday, that would be about 25 more than I witnessed walking and biking the trail in Damascus on a sunny Saturday, Father's Day weekend a year ago - over a period of a few hours - in mid-afternoon.
I don't begrudge these people their trail. But serious tax dollars have been poured into it. And there are still people around here who think it is some kind of tourist mecca. It ain't.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a local park, with the occasional impoverished college student coming down from Charlottesville, with his bike, dope, and tent in tow, to camp there one weekend a year. Nothing more.
Enough of our money has been wasted on it. I'm glad it afforded Congressman Boucher a nice backdrop for his wedding, but next time, he can pay for his own setting, and not require that the taxpayers cough up the cash for him.