Appalachian Trail Histories

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In 1939 the Appalachian Trail Conference issued guidelines to its member clubs regarding the construction of shelters (then called lean-tos) along the Appalachian Trail. The goal, as stated in this document, was to place shelters approximately 10 miles apart:

Such spacing avoids undue exertion for travelers carrying heavy packs and yet permits "skipping" a lean-to by more strenuously inclined traveler's for their day's journey.

The design of the lean-tos was to follow the general design of the Adirondack shelter: three-walled, with a steeply sloping roof, and a stone fireplace at the front that would radiate heat into the structure.


Collection: Trail Shelters
ATCShelterdoc.jpg

Application for the inclusion of Corbin Cabin in the National Register of Historic Places, November 30, 1988.

The text of the application reads, in part:

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Corbin Cabin is significant in that it is the only structure in Shenandoah National Park which remains as an intact example of a mountain cabin. It is 'typical of those built and used by residents of th,e various "hollow" communities which existed prior to the establishment of Shenandoah National Park.

Hollows are small, remote mountain valleys,in this case where small groups of people resided.

The area in which Corbin Cabin is located is known as Nicholson Hollow, which is thought to have been permanently settled in the late-18th century. The hollows of the area were occupied by families whose livelihoods were dependent upon grazing, farming, distilling, apple growing, and similar agricultural pursuits. In purchasing land for the establishment of the Shenandoah National Park, families which formerly occupied the area were moved and the culture which once existed in the area was dispersed. George T. Corbin was typical of the residents who lived in the vicinity, and his former home remains as the sole complete testimony to the lives of the mountain farmers.

The alterations that have been made to the cabin such as the completion of the side lean-to which was partially constructed at the time the cabin was abandoned, the replacement of the front porch and steps, and the addition of a covering to the
original metal roof, do not detract from the significance of the structure. Because of the relative isolation of the structure, most alterations have been carried out in a fashion similar to that used in the original construction, that is, simple hand tools have been used.

Originally the area around the cabin contained several out-buildings. Because of lack of maintenance, these buildings and structures such as various pens, hen houses, and other storage facilities necessary to mountain life have fallen into rubble.

Remnant features of the structures can still be found in the vicinity of the cabin. Stone fences and non-native plants left behind as the Corbins departed are still evident. The land around the cabin completes the picture and provides physical
evidence of the occupation of the property.

Collection: Nicholson Hollow
Corbin Cabin National Register.pdf

This article in the Bulletin of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Volume 22, no. 4, 1953) describes the first trip to Corbin Cabin by a PATC work crew to begin the process of renovating the structure which had stood empty since 1938 when George Corbin was forced to move out.

Corbin, the builder of the home and its only resident,  came to visit the work crew while they were there to describe his life in upper Nicholson Hollow and to provide some history of the cabin. He was 65 years old at the time.

The work on the cabin was made easier by the crew's ability to drive a jeep down what is now the Nicholson Hollow Trail to bring supplies to the work site. That trail is now impassable to vehicles. In the summer of 2017, a National Park Service historic preservation crew replaced the roof on the cabin and had to fly the roofing materials in by helicopter.

Collection: Nicholson Hollow
PATCB22.4.jpg

This photograph of Corbin Cabin was taken by an unknown photographer c. 1965. It shows the condition of the Cabin following its renovation by the PATC in the mid-1950s.

Collection: Nicholson Hollow
Corbin Cabin 1960s.jpg

This map shows the Eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison and Rappahannock County, Virginia around 1920. The bulk of the mountainous land on this map was subsequently incorporated into Shenandoah National Park in the 1930s.

Nethers Area Map.jpg

This Appalachian Trail marker is located within Shenandoah National Park, right in front of Elkwallow along Skyline Drive. These markers help designate where the trail is when it crosses highways and other major gaps.

AT Post Near Elkwallow in Shenandoah National Park2.JPG

This is the pamphlet that is handed out to guests who vacation to Shenandoah National Park. The lodge is located approximately halfway down the 104-mile-long Skyline Drive, and is the highest point of the highway. This map depicts the numerous cabins that make up the lodge, as well as shows where the Appalachian Trail crosses over and passes by Skyline Drive.

Skyland brochure.pdf

This is a white blaze along the Appalachian Trail, accessed from one of the Skyline Drive overlooks within Shenandoah National Park. The white blaze is commonly painted onto trees to mark the trail.

White Blaze on the Appalachian Trail.JPG

This is a view of Shenandoah National Park from one of the many overlooks along Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive is a famous scenic route that extends the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, with one lane southbound and one lane northbound. Each of these overlooks give tourists a spectacular view such as what is seen in this photo.

Rachel Stierle Shenandoah National Park2.jpg

This is one of the many Appalachian Trail markers that are common along the entire trail. This particular marker is located within Virginia's Shenandoah National Park.

Theresa Stierle Appalachian Trail Near Shenandoah National Park1.jpg

This 1949 article in the National Geographic Magazine by Andrew H. Brown offers an account of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in the year after Earl Shaffer's historic first thru hike. Included a descriptions of many of the signature features of the Trail. Perhaps the most famous of all the AT thru hikers is Emma (Grandma) Gatewood, who credits reading this article with being her inspiration for embarking on her first hike from Georgia to Maine.
[Click on the image at right to read the full story.]

Collection: Media Coverage
NGS1949.pdf