Verne Orndorff, retired Forest Service employee, World War II veteran, poet, and visionary designer and creator of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail passed away on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016. He was 100 years old.
Over 35 years ago, Verne while employed by the USDA Forest Service was given the responsibility of creating a long-distance trail in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
At that time, America was seeing a boom in the number of users on trails in parks and federal lands across America. The Appalachian Trail was gaining increased popularity and seeing increases in usage. To meet the demand new trails were being constructed across America.
The trail system in the Daniel Boone National Forest was a series of trails that supported local significant natural landmarks. Verne in looking at the system decided that a trail from one end of the forest to the other would bring together all the trails into a system and serve as the backbone of that trail system. His vision to connect existing trails, forest service roads, country roads into a linear trail was completed 36 years ago and stands today as a testament to his passion to get people, families outdoors and into the forest.
Steve Barbour, executive director of the Sheltowee Trace Association, said upon learning of Verne's passing that "the legacy of Verne Orndorff is a long-distance trail that is enjoyed by thousands each year. While user may not know it when they hike to Cumberland Falls, or Natural Bridge or Vanhook Falls, or Yahoo Falls, they are walking on a trail that was designed by Verne and enables all of us to enjoy the wonders of the Daniel Boone National Forest, two state parks, and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area."