The Heartbeat of a Community

American Trails Supports Turtle Bay’s Efforts to become Self Sustaining

by American Trails Staff

Redding’s Sundial Bridge is the heartbeat of our community and the centerpiece of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the area’s extensive trails system. This is the place that leaves a mark in the mind of any visitor and what they remember and dream about: the parks, trails, gardens, and museums, with the bridge soaring overhead and across a magnificent river – with mountains as a backdrop.

Cities and towns across the U.S. have cleaned up and created access to their rivers and streams. Redding, being blessed with one of the great rivers of America, has made its own efforts to make the stream accessible and visible again.

What makes Redding gloriously special was a decision to not only reclaim the river but to celebrate it in the most poetic way.

The river should be one of the most vital aspects of improving a city. This area is not just for visual beauty but an opportunity for the best kind of development. Not just random growth (look around the county), but features and facilities that add to the life and livability of the region.

Tourism is the lifeblood of our community. It has been proven over and again that having overnight lodging and dining nearby is a key component to a community’s success in taking advantage of the economic impact of a trail. When built, the new Turtle Bay hotel, will accomplish just that and more.

We hope everyone who cares about the future of Redding will stop by the Sundial Bridge. No matter how many times you’ve been there, take a look at the expressions on people’s faces as they simply enjoy being there. Every single time I walk across the bridge, I think to myself or tell whomever I am with, “I can’t believe I get to live near our bridge!”

My good friend, Hulet Hornbeck, past Board Member of American Trails, would have turned 95 on October 14th. He attended the Grand Opening of the Sundial Bridge with my husband and myself on July 4, 2004. Following the event he immediately had to attempt to capture the essence of his experience, and did so by writing an article, titled, Thoughts on the dedication of the Sundial Trail Bridge. He started the article, “This was a recreational, health-promoting, habitat-intense, spirit-challenging experience of unsurpassed joy in my life.” This honestly resounded from every pore in his body.

He went on to say, “Today, the trail dedication participants also dream and vision for tomorrow as they look on this new jewel: the Sundial Bridge… I see a bright future for trails, yet as unknown and unknowable as was the experience two generations ago of the founders of the new national trails organization, now known as American Trails, and the first federal trail authors, President Johnson and Secretary Udall.”

I only wish Hulet could have attended the 10-Year Anniversary Celebration events with us as well. I can just see him looking up with his child-like wonder as the Bandaloop performers graced the Bridge everyone in town calls “their own.” I know he would have looked back and then gazed into the future and asked, “Yes this was as “unknown and unknowable” – and what will the next ten years bring?”

I would like to give special recognition to The McConnell Foundation. For without their unwavering vision for improving the lifestyle and economy of the area and thinking bigger and more progressively than anyone dared, I doubt Turtle Bay would still exist today, there would definitely be no lovely and loved Sundial Bridge, there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoying it every year and bringing dollars to circulate throughout the community, there wouldn’t be so many amenities that can be taken for granted, and there would be a LOT fewer trails. And, without their improvements, and especially without the Sundial Bridge, it is certain that American Trails would not have moved our national office to the area.

We brought the National Trails Symposium here in 2000, because the City of Redding showed me the model of the Sundial Bridge designed by world-renowned Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. I immediately shared the The Foundation and the City’s vision with the American Trails Board. We decided to bring the Symposium to Redding and then decided to move our office here in 2002. The Sundial Bridge drew us and so many others to the area, and now it is like a beacon drawing lovers of trails, nature, art, and beauty to it from around the world.

It is the heartbeat of our community, and the proposed Turtle Bay hotel will help keep it beating.

~ Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trail

Note: REDDING, CA – On January 18, 2018, the Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge opened its welcoming doors. Located at 820 Sundial Bridge Drive in Redding California, the 130-room hotel boasts a one-of-a-kind location.

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