Appalachian Trail Histories


George Corbin

George T. Corbin

George Corbin (1955)

George Thurman Corbin was born in Nicholson Hollow on August 2, 1888. His father was Madison Corbin, who moved to Nicholson Hollow and married Mollie Nicholson, a daughter of Aaron Nicholson, the so-called "King" of the Nicholson Hollow.

Following the death of his first wife Mildred, George Corbin married Bertie Nichsolson and he built the cabin that carries his name in 1909 as their home. In an oral history recorded in April 1969, Corbin said, "I cut these logs way up in the mountain, we come down, line 'em and hewed 'em myself. Had a house raised and put the frame up in a day."

Corbin made his living through subsistence farming, selling chestnuts gathered in the forest (until the chestnut blight wiped out the trees in the 1920s), and by making and selling illegal liquor, chiefly apple brandy and corn-based moonshine. Corbin was the main supplier of illegal spirits to the Skyland Resort, situated at the top of the ridge above Nicholson Hollow, but he also sold his production to buyers as far away as Falls Church, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

After Bertie Corbin's death in childbirth in 1924, Corbin married for a third time in 1929 to Beulah Corbin. Virginia authorities forced Corbin and his family, and all the other residents of Nicholson Hollow, to leave their homes and farms in 1938 to make way for Shenandoah National Park. Although Corbin was paid $500 for his property, in an oral history recorded in 1969 he said the Virginia authories "stoled it." The $500 he received for his land was just enough to pay off loans he owed to a store keeper for a new roof he had recently installed on the cabin and other items.

After leaving this home in Nicholson Hollow, Corbin moved to one of the federally managed resettlement communities in Madison County with his third wife. By the 1960s he was living in Falls Church, Virginia and working as a janitor at St. James Catholic Church.

He returned to his cabin several times over the years and said he was glad to see it still standing and cared for. The photograph above is from 1955, taken at the ceremony commemorating the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's opening of the cabin as a rental property. He returned again in 1969 with several PATC members, including PATC president Ed Garvey and recorded the oral history linked here.

Corbin died on January 26, 1978, and is buried with his third wife in a cemetery in Luray, Virginia.