Horace M. Huffman, Jr. "A Visionary for Dayton bicycling; The Man behind the bikeway."
Horace M. Huffman, Jr. biked to work in the late 1930's from Oakwood to his father's bicycle factory on the east side of Dayton. But he inherited from the family business more than an appreciation for bicycling. “I've always like to build things with people," he said, to "build organizations with lots of people working together towards a common goal." The organizations Huffman built have had a major influence on Miami Valley bicycling for more than 35 years.
While president of the Huffy Corporation, he was co-founder and first president of the Dayton Cycling Club in 1961. Four years later, he formed and led the Greater Dayton Bikeway Committee, later known as the Miami Valley Regional Bicycle Council; the committee drafted one of the nation's first regional bikeway plans, which was adopted by the area's planning commission in 1973.
A key part of that plan was a trail along the Great Miami River. Huffman had gotten the idea around 1965 when he saw how Sacramento, California had struggled to acquire land for a path along the American River. He realized that Dayton had an ideal location for a bikeway, since the Miami Conservancy District already owned the land along the Great Miami River. The initial 8.2 mile section of bikeway was built by the Conservancy District and was dedicated at Dayton's First River Festival in 1976. Now the Horace M. Huffman, Jr. Great Miami River Trail has grown into a major regional trail.
It was "Huffy" as his friends called him, who suggested that the MVRBC (Miami Valley Regional Bicycle Council) establish the "Thunder Road Bike-A-Thon," which was the major source of funding for the organization and helped area charities from 1978 to 1999. He not only served Miami Valley bicyclists, he founded the Ohio Bicycle Communicator in 1973 and was its editor until it became the official newsletter of the newly formed Ohio Bicycle Federation in 1980. Huffman formed an organization to establish 127 miles of trails in northern Michigan where he spent his summers.
Huffman never stopped loving the bicycle. "It's a marvelous product," he said at age 82. It gets people where they want to go without being dependent on street cars or taxi cars or anything else. You just get on and go. I've often felt that the bicycle was the child's first declaration of independence."
Source: Tom Recktenwalt, via Miami Valley Regional Bicycle Council - (1977 River Corridor Bikeway Map).
The history of this site is almost as interesting as the history of the trail system it serves. The founding web master of this site is Mr. Thomas Recktenwalt, who as an avocation in his retirement built and maintained the original version of this web site for fifteen years.
Tom, a one-time runner, tells the story of having ease up his running routine, and a friend advising him that biking was a great, knee-friendly outdoor pursuit. It was about this time that Tom learned of the developing bike trail system in the Dayton region. In his own words:
I attended the dedication of the Creekside Trail from Xenia Station to Beavercreek in the Fall of 1997. I had searched the world wide web for sites pertaining to RailTrails in the Dayton area and found none.
I asked Mr. Tim Leiwig, former Greene County Parks and Recreation Director, if he knew of any web site commenting on this new trail or on any development in the Miami Valley. He said "No." I asked him if he wanted a web site about the new Creekside Trail. He said "Yes."
Thus began this amazing effort by one person, and his cadre of informal informants, to compile what is surely the most comprehensive on-line resource on the trails in the Miami Valley. Tom did this work because he loved it, and he knew his readers loved these trails. Tom was a steady presence at public meetings on trail development, is an avid Volksmarcher (walker) and of course, a cyclist.
Along the way he also wrote articles for other publications, and was the first web master for Bike Miami Valley.
In 2011, Tom made the decision to begin to wind down his involvement with the site, for health reasons. Over time, he decided to gift the content of this site, including almost 5,000 photographs and an immeasurable wealth of knowledge to the region. A consortium made up of trail managing agencies, trail funding agencies and convention and visitors bureaus has received the baton from Tom. This new MiamiValleyTrails.org represents our commitment to carrying on Tom’s dedication to the Miami Valley trails network, and the people who love them.
In early 2013 we learned of the passing of Tom Recktenwalt on December 22, 2012. In addition to the family and close friends he leaves behind, those of us who had the opportunity to work with him on one of his passions, the Miami Valley Trails, will miss Tom, too.