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Whistling Through the Graveyard

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Now that the Pencoyd Bridge has opened to cyclists, you might want to whistle through West Laurel Hill Cemetery rather than past it, as you wind your way to the Cynwyd Heritage Trail. Now an integrated part of the Circuit Trail system, this historic cemetery features twists and turns that even the most astute graveyard ghost might find daunting. However, with the recent addition of both pavement markings and signposts that look like mini-tombstones, now anyone can find their way through and out of the graveyard going either way.

Jim Kahn and David Finger, cyclists and members of both the Philadelphia Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, have been marking the progress of our region’s expanding web of Circuit trails, making sure cyclists know which way to go. West Laurel Hill cemetery contributed to the project by erecting the markers and helping to pay for them along with the Bicycle Club and the Friends of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.

Readers may remember that it was Jim Kahn who helped raise money from the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia to pay for signs from MLK Drive to the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, when the Manayunk bridge opened in 2015.

Chris Leswing of the Lower Merion Township Planning Commission originated the route after the Commission arranged for the easement with West Laurel Hill. Jim suggested signs and pavement trail markers to Pete Hoskins, CEO of West Laurel Hill, who enthusiastically agreed. The newly marked route is a scenic one, looping through the cemetery’s many mausoleums and crypts. It is not for the faint-hearted, though, as the road’s grade is far from flat. It allows quicker access to the Pencoyd bridge, a new connection for the Circuit Trail system.

Though the ‘official’ opening of the Pencoyd Bridge has been shrouded in mystery up until now, this new connection for pedestrians and cyclists owes its existence to something less than the phantasmagorical. The bridge is part of a residential development project by O’Neill Properties, and links these new apartments to Main Street.

The volunteer efforts of people like Kahn and Finger, and organizations like the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia and Friends of Cynwyd Heritage Trail have helped the Coalition in its mission to complete over 750 miles of bicycling trails in the Greater Philadelphia region. Garnishing such community support and action around the Connect the Circuit campaign is vital to its completion and maintenance.

West Laurel Hill is open daily and is the site of many notable burials, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992. We encourage you to whistle on your ride through this cemetery soon, a new gem in the Circuit Trail crown.

-Alan Spooner

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