HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Build it and they will come. Hancock County leaders are banking on that as they expand scenic by-ways, bike and walking trails.
On Friday, bikers and walkers got a chance to take a test run on the trails following a special unveiling.
Rocket tests in Hancock County became possible because of the people who lived in Logtown. An historic marker on Logtown Road now honors the folks who gave up their land so NASA could create a buffer zone around Stennis Space Center. That land is now being transformed into trails called scenic by-way to space.
Stennis Space Center's Ron Magee explained the idea behind showcasing Logtown. "There were about 250 people that were still living here at the time when NASA was building our facility," he said. "We needed this area for our buffer zone and because of that those 250 had to be displaced. The marker helps commemorate their memory as well as the memories of those prior to them."
The trails makes a seven mile loop around Logtown starting at the Infinity Science Center. Visitors will be able to walk or ride along a series of nature trails, boardwalks and bridges.
"There is a railroad crossing. There is a bridge over the Bayou Boguehoma and a number of boardwalks where it gets swampy so we can ensure access to everyone," said project architect Allison Anderson.
Along the way, visitors can soak up a little history and knowledge. "There will be several informative displays that will talk about the birds you might see or the animals you might see or the plants that you might see," explained Magee.
Bike enthusiasts seemed impressed.
"This is quite a bit of infrastructure that they've built for bikers and walkers out here this is great," said Gene Peters, owner of EcoGeno Bicycle Shop in Biloxi.
Jim Foster echoed those words. "This is a great trail. It's the first segment of a 101 miles across the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
Foster is president of the Gulf Coast Heritage Trials Partnership. He said the completion of the by-ways will enhance the county's eco-tourism product and give locals a chance to enjoy the natural beauty found in their own backyard.
"This raises our quality of life by helping us appreciate where we live," said Foster.
The scenic by-way to space is expected to be ready for use in about a month.