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The Priest Shelter, September 4, 1960. The Priest Shelter was constructed in the 1950s at the completion of a major relocation of the Trail in Virginia. It sits atop The Priest, just south of the Tye River. It is traditional for hikers to confess their sins "to the Priest" in the shelter log book.
The Earl Shaffer Shelter, pictured here in August 2008, was dedicated to Earl Shaffer, the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one year. Shaffer, who grew up nearby, eventually asked that his name be taken off the shelter in 1983, because he felt it had become "too fancy" after the addition of a wooden floor, replacing the old dirt floor. The Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club disassembled this shelter in 2008, and it now resides at the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park (PA).
The Peters Mountain Shelter, pictured on January 1, 1980. This shelter is the replacement for the Earl Shaffer Shelter, which was removed from the Trail in the summer of 2008 and now resides at the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park (PA).
A sign marking the Appalachian Trail at a road crossing near Bobblet's Gap in Central Virginia, August 4, 2016.
Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall and First Lady of the United States Lady Bird Johnson at Grand Teton National Park in 1964. Udall was a strong supporter of the Appalachian Trail and helped with the passage of the National Trails System Act of 1968 that created the Appalachian Trail as a national park.
During the first four decades of the Trail's existence, the majority of its route passed over private property. The local trail clubs and the ATC secured rights of way over these private lands through a series of agreements--some formal, some informal--that gave the clubs the right to build the trail across an individual's land, gave hikers the right to pass through, and sometimes included the right to build a shelter on the landowner's property. This sample easement from 1938 shows that the ATC was often able to secure these rights of way at minimal cost (in this case, $1.00). At the same time, these agreements were very fragile, generally giving the landowner the right to revoke or cancel the agreement with 30 days notice. As a result, the Trail was often rerouted when an easement was canceled, or when the property through which it passed changed hands.