Fagan Branch and its Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail. It’s an outdoor mecca in Marion County, and a place where folks truly can find their nature.
Fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, exercising, birdwatching, or simply just finding some solitude in nature. Fagan Branch is the place where all that and more can be found.
The Fagan Branch Reservoir project was completed in 1992, is owned by the Lebanon Water Works Company, and is designed to be a secondary raw water supply backup for the Rolling Fork River.
The devastating drought of 1987 “spurred the Fagan Branch Project to be built,” said John L. “Quincy” Thomas, who worked at the Lebanon Water Works Company for 17 years as a laborer and for 23 years as its superintendent. The project spurred industrial development and community expansion in the decades since.
Fish and Wildlife Officer Cecil L. Gorley, who died in 1995, originated the idea for the trail. Dr. Joseph W. Green, who served on the Lebanon Water Works Company board of directors for more than four decades, coordinated volunteer inmates from what was then the Marion Adjustment Center, and they blazed and built the trail. Thomas said it was Frank Ballard, who was a MAC security guard and the inmate work team supervisor, who actually determined where and how the trail weaved through its 3.2 miles.
In 2009, the Lebanon Tourist & Convention Commission obtained a $100,000 grant that rehabilitated and expanded the trail to what it is today. The grant made possible new bridges, signage, $62,000 in blacktop for the access roads and parking zones, and steel picnic tables, trash cans and benches.
Nowadays it’s home to Canada geese, eagles and ospreys, deer, beaver and all of Kentucky’s typical wildlife, trout (stocked because of the deep, cold water), and a broad variety of fish and aquatic life. Even smallmouth bass, which were caught by Gorley in Green River and used to stock Fagan Branch.