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Fifty years after the last trolley cars ran on the Penn-Ohio Electric System between Youngstown, Ohio, and New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1932, travelers on foot, bikes, and skates began using the corridor as the Stavich Bicycle Trail. Opened in 1983 with the help of donations from the local Stavich family and other individuals, the paved trail was an early example for rail-trails and is still somewhat uncommon, as it connects two states.
The trail doesn’t go the entire distance of its streetcar predecessor. It runs from the Youngstown suburb of Struthers to the outskirts of New Castle. Running through the Mahoning River Valley, the route follows a more rolling terrain than you’d expect. The trolley line’s builders were not so concerned as their counterparts in the railroad industry about dragging their cars over elevation changes.
The major donation for the trail came from a trust from the Stavich family, which made a fortune in processing aluminum in the Youngstown area. The trail named for them passes mainly through unshaded country alongside the active short-line railroad and pastureland. The 7 miles of asphalt in Pennsylvania are newer and smoother than the corresponding 3 miles in Ohio. Mileage markers count down to 0 at the Ohio line.
Starting at the trailhead parking on West Washington Street on the west side of New Castle, the trail actually heads east about 0.2 mile to the endpoint. Heading west on the trail, the route takes a downhill slope the first 2 miles to a trailside pond, where you may see some ducks paddling about. From here, you’ll follow alongside the railroad toward Youngstown.
You’ll cross under US 224 at 2.4 miles, and then cross Coffee Run on a bridge at 3.3 miles. The Ohio state line arrives in 6.8 miles past the parking lot.
In 0.6 mile, the trail portion ends at Liberty Street, which you’ll take through Lowellville for 0.4 mile until the paved trail begins again.
The town is known as Little Italy because many Italians started settling here in the late 1800s, and today more than a third of its population claims Italian ancestry. An Italian society hosts a festival in July featuring Italian food, boccie ball tournaments, and a local band. Lowellville also has a long history in the steel industry, first with Ohio Iron & Steel Co. and then with Sharon Steel Corp., until it closed in the early 1960s. Antique cars are on display every Monday evening through the summer across the tracks on Water Street.
Returning to the trail, you’ll pass the high school football stadium and baseball fields as you leave town. The trail ends on Youngstown Lowellville Road at 0.7 mile past the athletic fields.
To reach parking near the eastern endpoint in New Castle, Pennsylvania, from I-376 E, take Exit 13A. Turn right onto US 224 W, and go 0.8 mile. Turn left onto W. Washington St., go 1.4 miles, and look for parking on the right. The endpoint is 0.2 mile east along the trail.
To reach parking near the eastern endpoint in New Castle, Pennsylvania, from I-376 W, take Exit 17. Turn left onto PA 108 W/Mt. Jackson Road, and go 0.5 mile. Turn right onto Cleland Mill Road/T378, go 1.4 miles, and keep left to continue onto Coverts Road/T378. Go 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Brewster St., and go 0.2 mile. Continue onto Covert Road; go 0.5 mile. Take a slight right onto W. Washington St., and go 0.1 mile. Look for parking on the right. The endpoint is 0.2 mile east along the trail.
To reach parking near the western endpoint in Struthers, Ohio, from I-680 N, take Exit 8. Turn right onto Shirley Road; go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Poland Ave., go 1.5 miles, and continue onto State St. Go 0.9 mile, and turn left onto S. Bridge St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Broad St. Go 1.1 miles. Look for parking on the right by a sign that says "Stavich Bike Trail Welcomes You!" From I-680 S, take Exit 8. Continue onto Cooper St. 0.3 mile, and turn left onto E. Indianola Ave. Go 0.3 mile, turn right onto Poland Ave., and follow the directions above.
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