Kane, PA Honored for Community Revitalization, Investment in the Outdoors

The light from stars takes time to reach our earthly eyes, but it’s well worth the wait. The same can be said of Kane, PA, whose investment in outdoor recreation, community-building revitalization, and the arts is transforming an economy formerly based on timbering and manufacturing. In recognition of that accomplishment, the town received the first ever Trailblazing Community award at PEC’s 2024 Western Pennsylvania Dinner, which a group of local leaders traveled to Pittsburgh to celebrate.

Branded “A Star in the Forest” for its location in the Pennsylvania Wilds, more than 2 million acres of largely undeveloped public land boasting some of the darkest night skies in North America, Kane has embraced the outdoors as a foundation on which to build what local leaders describe as an “active, attractive community.”

“I really see Kane as a microcosm of the larger regional efforts of the Pennsylvania Wilds,” said Ta Enos, founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship. “It’s a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds and sectors coming together around a shared vision.”

That effort includes bringing to life the 74-mile Knox & Kane Rail Trail, a portion of which was named Pennsylvania’s 2023 Trail of the Year. The Trail Association of the McKean/Elk Divide (TAMED) is responsible for 23 miles of that corridor, of which 16.5 miles have been completed. The trail is popular year-round, attracting bikers and hikers as well as cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

“You have all four seasons here,” said Kane Mayor Brandy Schimp. “There’s really something for everyone.”

In the last year alone, two outfitters have set up shop in Kane, offering outdoor gear for sale or rent. That’s in addition to restaurants, coffee shops, a popular brewery, and other businesses for visitors who need places to refuel and recharge after their adventures. In 2022, the town gained recognition for its Six&Kane building, the first building of its size to be retrofitted to international Passive House standards.

Visitors have flocked to Kane to enjoy everything the area has to offer, but the effort has succeeded not simply by enticing outsiders to spend money. Rather, Kane Area Development Center director Kate Kennedy said, Kane’s success is grounded in an “inside-out” approach that centers community needs and enhances quality of life for residents first and foremost.

Tom Kase, president of TAMED, put it this way: “We are trying to create an experience for those of us that live here so we all love it. And when you come visit, you just want more of it.”