By Peter G. O’Leary

In the last issue of the Breeze a naming contest for a proposed trail was introduced. This trail would be a multi-use bike/pedestrian trail along the lines of a rails-to-trails project. It would follow the proposed sewer connection being planned from Lake Lure to Rutherfordton/Spindale and would probable follow Highway 64/74A. There the trail could tie into the rails to trail system being developed between and through Rutherfordton, Spindale, and Forest City.

It would become the connector that ties the eastern part of the county into the western tourist area. This will become a new tourist destination attraction in and of itself. It would serve as a catalyst to promote new restaurants, B & B’s, bike shops, hotels, etc. at each end and along the route as well as boosting existing businesses. It would serve as a conduit to channel tourists from one side of the county to the other.

It would be a great start but the real issue is what do we call it? I would call it “The Whistle Pig Trail”.

What the heck is a whistle pig you ask? They are all around us. They chew nonchalantly on grass as we drive past on the highway. They run with skin rolling when heading to their den. They whistle in a high pitched note when frightened or as a warning – hence the nickname whistle pig.

It is a groundhog, and we have a lot of them. The Whistle Pig Trail name denotes a local animal that is ubiquitous, very observable, friendly, fun, memorable, and very promotable.

Many other rails to trails are named for the local train or engine that used them. This is the case with the Virginia Creeper trail in Abington, VA and the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Travelers Rest, SC. The proposed trail between the Gorge and Rutherfordton doesn’t have the old railroad to use so another name is necessary – something different, catchy, marketable, interesting, and attractive as in “I have to go and see that trail”!

Whistle Pigs would populate the trail as they already populate the roads that the trail would follow. The trail’s namesake would literally be ready to welcome visitors as soon as they began using the trail. This name would also tie into Chimney Rock State Park’s use of Grady the Groundhog as a mascot. Grady serves as a liaison with Park visitors, particularly children.

Let me know if you can get behind this idea. The Whistle Pig Trail.

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