Do you know the history of Austin’s hike-and-bike trail?

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Do you know the history of Austin’s hike-and-bike trail?

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Carolyn Curtis and Les Gage, seen here on the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, have been instrumental to the success of the trails around Lady Bird Lake. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austinites whose memories reach back to the early 1960s — when the newly impounded body of water on the Colorado River was dubbed Town Lake by an American-Statesman reporter because nobody else bothered to name it — can remember when there were no trees.

“They removed all the trees in 1958 to reduce flooding,” remembers Leslie “Les” Gage, a former City Council member who co-chaired the 1970s committee to create a hike-and-bike trail around the lake. “They were taken away everywhere except the pecans by Zilker Park. Everything else was wiped out. A blank canvas.”

As Austinites celebrate more than 40 years of what is now called the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail as well as the 15th anniversary of the Trail Foundation, which looks out for the lakeside’s future, they can thank Gage and longtime friend Carolyn Curtis, who helped to helm the Citizens’ Committee for a More Beautiful Town Lake from 1971 to 1976.

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