Connecting Communities and Remembering
- Map - All Phases
- Phase 1 - Mayville to Horicon Marsh
- Phase 4 - City of Horicon (Palmatory Point to Whitty Park)
- Phase 5 - Horicon Marsh Education Center to Palmatory Point
The Gold Star Memorial Trail (GSMT) is a citizen initiated, public-private project progressing in Dodge County, Wisconsin that will provide an important recreational trail facility for the citizens of Dodge County and its visitors and serve as a memorial to fallen service members of Wisconsin. The proposed trail will stretch from the City of Mayville to the City of Beaver Dam, traversing approximately 15 miles. The trail will be for non-motorized use, primarily biking and hiking, and will provide opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months. The trail connection between the cities of Mayville and Beaver Dam will also provide important trail links to the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area and its world class Education and Visitor Center, the City of Horicon, the Wild Goose State Trail and Nitschke Mounds County Park. Most of the trail is projected to be 10’ wide, asphalt paved and located within highway or railroad right of ways separated from vehicle travel lanes.
The recent grass roots energy and support for this project has been the catalyst to jump start this long proposed trail development plan. Citizens, business leaders and Gold Star Families from Mayville to Beaver Dam and surrounding areas have formed a project committee and partnered with Dodge County and the Friends of Dodge County Parks, Inc. to lay the foundation for and carry out the funding, planning, development and future maintenance of the proposed trail.
The trail project is generally broken into 5 phases. These phases can be accomplished in any order or concurrently with one another as funding is available and alignments are finalized. Each phase is locally important on their own. However, when combined, they create a significant regional connection between communities.
- 2013 - Mayville area citizens form a trail group and approach County with trail concept from Mayville to Horicon Marsh Education Center (preliminarily named Cardinal Connection).
- 2014 – Friends of Dodge County Parks, Inc. establishes trail committee and fund for trail donations.
- Local Gold Star Family requests the trail be built as a memorial to local fallen service members.
- Trail concept expanded to connect to Cities of Horicon and Beaver Dam and the Gold Star Memorial Trail name is adopted to honor the 6 fallen since 1991 from Mayville, Horicon & Beaver Dam.
- Beaver Dam Community Hospital Foundation makes 1st major donation to kick off trail fundraising with a goal of $650,000 for trail design and development.
- 2015 – Nearly $100,000 of private donations received along with over $240,000 in State Stewardship and Federal Rec Trails grants.
- Donations begin to be received for future trail phases.
- 2016 - Initial $650,000 fundraising goal for Phase 1 reached thanks to a major donation and a major matching challenge grant from the Ted and Grace Bachhuber Foundation.
- 2017 - Engineering and design work completed for Phase 1.
- 2018 – Phase 1 Construction - the trail is open for use November 24th.
- 2018 - Phase 4 - Bike route through City of Horicon is approved, marked and open.
- 2019 - Final site restoration, memorial signage installation planned to fully complete Phase 1.
- 2019 - June 1 - Grand Opening/Dedication of Phase 1 planned.
- 2019 - Feasibility study for Phases 2-3 planned.
- 2020 – Grant writing and fundraising planned for Phases 2-3.
- 2021 – Design and Construction to start for Phases 2-3 (tentative)
The design and construction of the full trail is mostly dependent on funding. The goal for completion of the entire trail to Beaver Dam is 2022, however the trail could be completed sooner or later depending on how quickly the necessary funding is obtained.
- About 40-50% of Dodge County residents and potentially hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Horicon Marsh area would have easy access to the trail.
- Improved and safer biking and hiking transportation connectivity between Dodge County communities - reducing automobile trips.
- Improved access to healthy lifestyle activities and recreational pursuits for current and future generations.
- Enhanced economic development as a regional tourism resource.
- Opportunity for partnerships, collaborations and cooperation across local, County, State and Federal governments and agencies, organizations, foundations, businesses, individuals, etc.
- Remembering and honoring those local heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice – since 1991, Dodge County has lost 6 service members from the communities which are to be linked by this trail.