With a message for you.
Last summer, an escaped 15-foot python roamed Morgantown, to the delight and terror of residents. Now the Mon Python is back—keep an eye out for it when you’re on the Mon River rail-trail.
“Mind the Mon Python,” laughs Mon River Trails Conservancy Executive Director Ella Belling. “Keep ssssix feet apart, especially when passssing others.”
The six-foot-long image stenciled on the trail was created by WVU Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Vaike Haas, who has a background as a tattoo artist.
“I thought Ella’s idea was really fun,” Haas says. “When we were talking about what image to use, Ella said, ‘I think it should be a snake to get people to stop and notice.’” When Haas is stenciling the image, passersby range from vaguely disapproving to thumbs up. “It’s been really fun to see the range of reactions.”
Trail use has been way up this summer. “It’s a tight fit in some places,” Belling says. “Make sure you’re giving people enough distance—and maybe if there’s already somebody on a bridge, wait until they’ve crossed.”
The Mon Python was never found. When Belling was stencilling upriver, she learned that it has passed into local legend. “All of these people at Prickett’s Fort, Uffington, little kids, old people, everyone knew the Mon Python story. I had no idea.”
This summer’s Mon Python is one of about 80 items to be checked off in the soon-to-be-unlocked scavenger hunt phase of the Imagination Running Wild Challenge, part of the Conservancy’s encouragement to explore all 48 miles of the Deckers Creek / Mon River / Caperton rail-trail system.
Are the rail-trails your go-to escape this summer? We all have the Mon River Trails Conservancy to thank—now is a great time to join. And if you’re an artist interested in creating a stencil of local wildlife with a public health message, MRTC wants to hear from you.
posted on June 10, 2020
written by Pam Kasey
images courtesy of Mon River Trails Conservancy