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What is known today as the Virginia Creeper Trail began as a railroad spur line from Abingdon to West Jefferson, N.C., owned by the Norfolk and Western Railroad. The railroad ceased operating in 1977 and was scheduled to be removed for salvage value. In 1982 the Town of Abingdon purchased the right-of-way through Damascus for the mere sum of ,000 and the U.S. Forest Service acquired the remainder to the North Carolina State line. By 2004, researchers estimated the trail’s annual impact on the local economy between .3 and .9 million, making this perhaps the best municipal investment in Abingdon history. Congress granted official designation as a National Scenic Recreation Trail in 1986, and formal dedication was held the following year.
Those who enjoy the trail today are indebted to community leaders with the foresight to establish the trail, as well as those who have maintained and promoted it through the years. Today, the Virginia Creeper Trail Club a nonprofit organization, continues to advocate and work in the same spirit.