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Nickel Plate Trial in Miami County

Get Connected! at the Nickel Plate Trail website: nickelplatetrail.org
Mike Kuepper
The pathway is a good mixture town, country, open and shaded trail.

The Nickel Plate Trail in Miami County started as just an idea for the betterment of the community, but due to the hard work of Mike Kuepper, President of Kuepper Favor, and former Miami County Councilman Bill Click, that idea became a reality. Today, the beautiful Nickel Plate Trail runs along more than forty miles of railway when just sixteen years ago it was nothing more than an idea. Looking at the trail today, it is hard not to be in awe of the wonderful addition to Miami County for which many members of the community are incredibly grateful.

In 1999, Kuepper attended a Rotary meeting where speaker Richard Vonnegut, the founder of the Indiana Trail Fund, reached out to individuals in the community who were interested in developing a rail trail. Immediately, both Kuepper and Click joined the project’s efforts. Each of them saw this offer as a great opportunity for both themselves and their community.

“I saw the trail as a great place to go on your bike without worrying about any cars. But also, from being involved in previous economic development endeavors, I saw it as another great economical opportunity for the community,” said Kuepper.

However, the two of them knew that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish such a massive project alone, so they began to apply for grants. After receiving several different grants, they were able to begin the building process on their first trail. Kuepper and his team did the majority of the labor on their own. They were given $150,000 and were able to pave 3 miles on the trail and build 5 bridges. They also received some help from volunteers in the community, and they were given some donations. The Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF) continuously supported the project by awarding them matching grant money. This initial project became so successful that the men continued to apply for grants so that the trail could continue to grow.

Today, the trail is still growing and continues to help benefit Miami County. Economically, the trail continues to bring in customers for local businesses. The trail passes by a number of pizza shops, ice cream parlors, and restaurants to which out-of-town visitors provide patronage. The trail is also now a part of the American Discovery Trail, which helps bring in many people to Miami County. A local business owner in the county said, “There is usually at least one international visitors a week that passes by here on the trail.”

The trail also continues to bring the community together while enhancing the health of the people within Miami County. People in the community are able to exercise for free on the trail whenever they please, and many groups around the county use the trail for both exercise and fundraising. It is not uncommon to see a church group or charitable organization on the trail for fundraising purposes.

The beautiful views from the trail are also very enticing. The nature, the decorative signs along the trail, and the unique bridges make this trail very special. Each bridge took a lot of work and effort to convert from railroads into the trail, and all of the bridges cross over rivers and valleys that are nearly seventy feet below the bridge.

Kuepper hopes that in the future, the trail will extend all the way to the trail in Converse. Then, he hopes that the trail will reach all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois. “If you would have asked me in the beginning, I would have said it was just a crazy dream and that we could never accomplish this project, and I look at it now and it just proves that if you can put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” Kuepper said. He himself is even astounded by the success and continuous progression of the trail.

Thanks to the hard work of Mike Kuepper and Bill Click, the generous help of countless volunteers, and the grants from the Northern Indiana Community Foundation and other organizations, this trail continues to grow and to benefit Miami County immeasurably.