Riverway trail approaches 50th anniversary; Agency remembers Lucia Hobart Bravo


For the Miami Valley Today

MIAMI VALLEY — The Great Miami Riverway has benefited from the work of many committed individuals over the years. People who have worked to promote the river, the trail, and the riverfront communities for economic, recreation and environmental value. One of those individuals, Lucia Hobart Bravo, championed the potential of the Great Miami River corridor in ways that are still providing a positive impact.

Lucia Hobart Bravo contributed her time and energy on many charitable initiatives in Troy, but her work to improve the river corridor should be recognized by anyone who as pedaled, run, or walked the regional trails system. She was a driving force behind the construction of the very first mile of recreation trail along the Great Miami River. The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the construction of that first trail mile in Troy, which became the backbone of the nations’ largest paved trail system that now includes more than 340 connected miles.

Bravo, who died in 2011, was the granddaughter of C.C. Hobart, the founder of the Hobart Electric Manufacturing Company, which later invented the well-known KitchenAid mixer. Her father, William H. Hobart, Sr., co-founded the Hobart Brothers Company with his father and brothers, Charles and Edward, where they manufactured world-renowned industrial products such as welding machines, battery-chargers, and aircraft auxiliary power generators. Her uncle Edward, and her brother, William H. Hobart, Jr., served on the Miami Conservancy District’s (MCD) Board of Directors for many years.

Building the first bike trail

Along with a citizens group called the Troy Beautification Committee, Bravo approached the city of Troy and MCD in 1971 with the idea of building an off-street bikeway. MCD’s General Manager at that time, Bennet Coy, responded with a letter of support to the city of Troy, writing, “The use of District levee tops for bike ways to the city schools and recreation areas as well as for scenic and safe pleasure riding is a most commendable idea. The District, will be happy to work with the City of Troy and the Troy Beautification Committee to suggest or approve methods of construction which will not interfere with the primary flood control purposes of the levees for the City of Troy.”

The following year General Manager Coy sent an additional letter, writing, “The District has been working the last few months with Mrs. Bravo and her citizens group…on the design and location of a bikeway for the City of Troy. The design…presented to the District for construction of the bikeway, should provide an excellent riding surface for people of all ages in a recreation form which has had unbelievably wide acceptance by people throughout the United States…the proposed Troy bikeway has the advantage of being able to handle an extremely large volume of riders in an off-street location which will provide a great deal of safety which is not available while sharing a route with automobiles.“

Trojan Asphalt, Inc., of Troy was selected as the contractor to build the first mile of trail, and the Miami Valley Trail system was born.

Leveraging the river corridor

In 1976, Bravo chaired the Miami River Corridor Plan for Miami and Shelby counties, which recommended almost 50 site-based projects to improve connectivity to river communities in both counties. The plan included urban areas like Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, and Sidney, and the natural areas in between. The plan painted a larger rationale for additional miles of connected trails.

“The trailways are more than just a means of getting to and from nodes … they themselves provide recreational opportunities,” the plan said. “The linear nature of the River Corridor makes possible an extensive of trails for bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and pleasure driving.”

Bravo challenged communities along the river to make this vision larger and to create more miles of trails. The report foretold the evolution to the Great Miami Riverway, saying, “The trailways proposed in this report will tie the Miami and Shelby Counties’ plan to the Montgomery County and Butler County plans. It is hoped that, in the not-too-distant future, similar plans will be developed for Hamilton and Logan counties. If this were done, the Great Miami River would have a plan for its entire corridor – from source to mouth!”

“As we approach on the 50th anniversary of the trail system, it’s important to recognize those who helped make it happen,” said Dan Foley, director of the Great Miami Riverway. “We’re grateful to Mrs. Lucia Hobart Bravo, and to the Troy Beautification Committee, the City of Troy and MCD, for starting the trail that grew to become a nationally-recognized paved trail system. We look forward to many more miles to come.”

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