History * Education * Fundraising * Grants
The Baldwin County Trailblazers was formed as a non-profit organization in 1995 to raise funds to build a continuous multi-purpose recreation trail along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, Ala. Founder Teko Wiseman’s vision was to connect cities and towns and encourage a pedestrian and bike-friendly community. The initial challenge was to create a public appetite for sidewalks in small communities where none existed and then to connect those communities.
The Trailblazers worked with elected officials and local press to promote the concept. Nationally respected trail enthusiasts, including Dan Burden, Jeff Speck and Ed McMahon, provided guidance and encouragement at Trailblazer conferences and public-input meetings. The cities of Daphne and Fairhope, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and the Baldwin County Highway Department helped to design, produce and install trails and trail signage and continue to provide maintenance and repairs.
Construction of the Trail began in 1998 in Olde Towne Daphne on Main Street (Scenic Highway 98). In September 2013 the Trailblazers and the Baldwin County Commission received a Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant ($308,324.00) toward the final segment, and in December 2013, the Trailblazers presented matching funds raised ($77,041.00) to the Baldwin County Commission ensuring completion of the Eastern Shore Trail. Construction of the final 1.5-mile segment, on Scenic Hwy 98 between Co. Rd. 13 and Hwy 181 in the Barnwell area, began in 2015.
In addition to planning and fundraising for the Trail, the organization serves as the Trail’s steward: representing and advocating for it with local leaders, agencies and governments; monitoring maintenance and repair issues; addressing local and visitor questions and concerns; hosting volunteer work days for clean-up and beautification; promoting it as a destination attraction; and keeping the press and the public aware of its purpose, benefits, unique features and diverse beauty.
Left to right:
Daphne Beautification Committee (2013) David Dueitt, Selena Vaughn, Elaine Maxime, Rebecca Trosclair, Trailblazers then-President Valery Wiseman De Laney (right rear), Tomasina Werner, and Dorothy Morrison
- 1998- First annual meeting held at U.S. Sports Academy showcases recreational trail system in Florida.
- 2000- Trailblazers first “Walk Your Child to School Day” for Spanish Fort, Daphne, and Fairhope schools. 3,000 participants. Findings reported to Baldwin County Schools and ALDOT.
- 2001- Trailblazers “Walk Your Child to School Day;” Wilbur Smith Associates (national trail design/ engineering firm) holds open house at Fairhope Civic Center to showcase feasibility study of Trail; Trailblazers co-host statewide ADECA grant writing workshop with City of Fairhope.
- 2002- Trailblazers host Smart Growth planner Dan Burden at Faulkner State Community College in Fairhope for Walkable Communities presentation; Cohosts: Baldwin County Association of Realtors, Homebuilders Association of Baldwin County, cities of Gulf Shores and Fairhope.
- 2003- Trailblazers host “Smart Growth” presentation by nationally celebrated urban planner Jeff Speck in Fairhope.
- 2005- Baldwin County Commission approves posting Trailblazer’s “Share the Road” signs on county roads favored by cyclists.
- 2007- “Walkable Communities” advocate Dan Burden delivers presentations and walking audits in Daphne, Spanish Fort, Foley, Bay Minette, Robertsdale, and downtown Mobile; Trailblazers kick off “Bikes for Tikes” campaign, purchasing 60 children bikes and helmets distributed through the Rotary Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
- 2009- Liz Smith-Incer from National Parks-Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance facilitates a board of directors brainstorming retreat at Weeks Bay Foundation Training Center.
- 2010- Trailblazers partner with BayArt to host an art competition between local youths to create art for kiosk panels along the Eastern Shore Trail.
- 2012- Trailblazers and Weeks Bay Foundation host 1-mile Fun Run on the newly constructed Weeks Bay segment of EST; Trailblazers attend and display at annual Alabama Trails Conference at Jacksonville State University.
- 2013- Trailblazers with Fairhope Ped/Bike Committee provide free “Bike Valet” (156 bikes) at Arts and Crafts Festival. ALDOT staff agrees to place “Share the Road” signs on AL 90, the Causeway. Trailblazers create Trail presentation for use at public events; Letter mailed to residents along the Trail, from Grand Hotel to Weeks Bay, requesting cooperation and explaining that no vehicle parking or yard debris allowed on trail; e-newsletter introduced.
- 2014- New signage designed for Eastern Shore Trail from Gator Alley to Weeks Bay; Baldwin County Highway Dept installs wooden bollards at Battles Wharf Market to prevent restaurant patrons from parking on the Trail; Trailblazers partner with Fairhope Bike-Ped Committee to host Free Bike Valet at Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival and Fairhope Earth Day-Mobile Bay.
- 1998- Trailblazers sell inscribed brick pavers to match Sybil Smith $25,000 challenge grant for “Daphne Greenway.”
- 1999- Big Band Swing Night fundraising dance at Fairhope Civic Center, Nov 12.
- 2000- “Big Band Dance” at Fairhope Civic Center, Nov 10.
- 2001- Pelican Point Triathlon, organized by Jeff and Erica Pollack, attracts 320 athletes, June 30.
- 2002- Pelican Point Triathlon attracts 303 athletes, June 8
- 2003- Pelican Point Triathlon, May 31
- 2004- Grandman Triathlon, June 19.
- 2005- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Watch,/Mobile Baykeeper host Grandman Triathlon, June 18.
- 2006- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, June 3.
- 2007- “Fairways to Trailways” benefit golf tournament at Grand Hotel Lakewood Golf course, March 31.
- 2007- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, June 2.
- 2008- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, May 31. Trailblazers manage water stations along the race path.
- 2009- Trailblazers with Foley Lions Club host Tour de Foley bike ride, Oct 24.
- 2009- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, May 30, manage water stations.
- 2010- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, June 5. Trailblazers with Foley Lions Club host Tour de Foley bike ride, Oct 23.
- 2011- Trailblazers with Foley Lions Club host Tour de Foley bike ride, Oct 15. Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper for Grandman Triathlon.
- 2012- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, manage water stations. Trailblazers partner with Foley Lions Club to host Tour de Foley, Oct 13.
- 2013- Trailblazers with Mobile Bay Keeper host Grandman Triathlon, June 1, manage water stations. Trailblazers with Foley Lions Club host Baldwin Bicycle Fest featuring Le Tour de Foley, Nov. 2.
Grants for Trail Construction
- 1998- Rep. Sonny Callahan earmarks $1,016,250 “federal demonstration project funds” for what would later become known as the Eastern Shore Trail (EST). Monies distributed over 5 years with a $203,250 match over 5 years.
- 1998- ALDOT awards $200,000 ISTEA grant for Main Street trail in Old Towne Daphne with $50,000 match by City of Daphne.
- 1999- Fairhope is awarded $200,000 ISTEA grant for US 98 with a 20% $50,000 local match, $10,000 covered by Trailblazer donation to City. US 98 from Gayfer Court to Middle Street, both sides of US 98.
- 1999- Fairhope is awarded ADECA grant of $100,000 for Section Street with a $25,000 match from the city. (Section Street from CR 104 to Gayfer Avenue)
- 2001- EST Gator Alley (Interstate 10 underpass) connecting Daphne and Spanish Fort is funded with $198,000 TE grant, 20% match by Daphne.
- 2002- Rep. Sonny Callahan delivers $1,486,961 grant for Montrose segment of EST. Baldwin County Commission to administer grant. No match required.
- 2005- Jill Hall Trail (EST, Scenic 98 from Fairhope to Grand Hotel) asphalt repair project begins, funded with $100,000 from ADECA, $20,000 from the Trailblazers.
- 2006- Trailblazers plant 50 crepe myrtles along the Point Clear segment of the EST, and shrubs along the Montrose trail, funded by Alabama Power Company “Plant a Tree in Alabama” grant for $1,750.
- 2006- Trailblazers and City of Spanish Fort are awarded TE grant $278,640, local match $69,660, to connect Gator Alley in Daphne US 98 to US 31 to Spanish Fort Elementary School -1.5 miles
- 2007- EST Scenic 98 from Grand Hotel to CR 32 is funded with $539,452 TE grant, 20% match. -1 mile
- 2008- EST Scenic 98 from Mullet Point to CR 13 is funded $313,820 TE funds with county match of $28,450, Trailblazer match $50,000. -2.25 miles
- 2008- $20,000 grant from ADECA to print brochures and install 9 kiosks along the trail designed by landscape architect Will Mastin. $3,200 match from Trailblazers
- 2008- EST Scenic 98 from AL 181 to Weeks Bay Education Resource Center is funded with TE grant $110,060 with local match of $27,515. – .85 mile asphalt trail.
- 2009- Trailblazers and City of Daphne awarded “Safe Routes to School” ALDOT sidewalk grant for CR 13 in front of Daphne Middle School and Daphne Elementary School for $148,250.
- 2013- Trailblazers and Baldwin County Commission awarded Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to complete the last segment of the EST on Scenic 98 from CR 13 to AL 181. Grant awarded $308,324, local match $77,081.
- 2014- Trailblazers awarded ADECA RTP grant $27,192 to fund a Trailhead at Battleship Memorial Park for road cyclists traveling from Park to Eastern Shore Trail at Gator Alley in Daphne.