An Outstanding Scout
Sixteen-year-old Sigmund Winiecki started working toward his Eagle Scout rank last year by doing his Eagle Scout service project for the Harris Center. We’re so glad he did! Sigmund joins a handful of nature-conscious Boy Scouts who have done their service projects with the Harris Center over the years.
Sigmund’s chosen project was to rehabilitate a walking trail at Elmwood Junction in Hancock, which had become completely overgrown. Back in the day, the railroad junction had connected trains from Keene to Nashua and from Hillsborough to Peterborough. Bringing it back to life was an ambitious project.
“When I first got to the site, it looked like an average New Hampshire backyard — complete woods — really thick in some places. I took a hike and looked at the rail beds and thought it was pretty neat.”
Teamwork on Trailwork
A Jaffrey resident, Sigmund is part of Boy Scout Troop 8 of Peterborough. The first step he took to rehabilitate the trail was to research the site. In short order, he found Dale Russell, who had made the original trail back in the 1980s, complete with 15 trail markers. The junction had fallen into disrepair and disuse after the Hurricane of 1938. When Sigmund scoped out the tangled area, only one worn marker remained.
“Mr. Russell’s been a tremendous help in researching this project. He has multiple binders of ‘ancient’ railroad pictures, and he’s been really helpful.”
Sigmund decided to clear a 0.25-mile loop trail, and then create kiosks and markers to detail the trail’s history and special features, such as the railroad oil shed. He met with the Conservation Commission and with staff at the Harris Center, then organized a cadre of volunteers to help clear brush and take down trees. Sigmund’s been homeschooled throughout his life, and it’s safe to say he has a lot of self-motivation and discipline, which were essential elements in completing this ambitious project.
Take a Walk!
The trail is now ready for use and can be accessed from Route 202 via South Elmwood Road in Hancock. The loop can be walked in ten minutes, or 20 minutes at a slower amble to view the markers along the way. This is a wonderfully generous gift to the community from Sigmund and all the volunteers who helped create the trail.
“I love the outdoors. It’s sad that it’s disappearing. Wildlife is being consumed by ‘progress.’ It’s cool that the Harris Center is doing what it’s doing in southern New Hampshire.”
We think it’s cool that Sigmund chose to create this trail for his Eagle Scout service project. We look forward to seeing what other paths he forges throughout his life!
Sigmund created this short video about his project:
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.