Appalachian Trail Histories

This document is from the United States District Court of Charlottesville, VA regarding the Indictment of Darrell David Rice for the murders of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans in late May/June of 1996. The document shows that the Grand Jury charges Rice with four counts of capital murder, two counts per victim.

Collection: Legislation
Darrell David Rice 1996 Shenandoah National Park Possible Murder Indictment.pdf

This is the United States District Court of Charlottesville, Virginia's Notice of Intent to introduce evidence against Darrell David Rice, the suspected killer of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans. Williams and Winans were murdered in Shenandoah National Park along the Appalachian Trail in late May/June of 1996. The two women were in a homosexual relationship with one another, and Rice was quoted as hating gays and believing that Williams and Winans deserved to die. The document states that Rice, if found guilty, would be charged with capital murder.

Collection: Legislation
Darrell David Rice 1996 Shenandoah National Park in US District Court April 10 2002.pdf

This is an FBI poster regarding the 1996 double murder of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans in Shenandoah National Park. The couple was last seen alive on May 24, 1996, and were found dead on June 1, 1996. Williams was just 24 years old at the time of her death, and Winans was 26 years old. The dog, Taj, was unharmed and found nearby. The crime is still unsolved.

Collection: Hikers
Julianne WIlliams and Laura Winans Murder Victim Poster.pdf

This is an image of Laura Winans, a hiker who visited Shenandoah National Park in May of 1996. Winans visited the park with partner Julianne Williams, and their dog Taj. Their mission while in the park was to hike on the Appalachian Trail. However, between May 24 and June 1, 1996, these two women were murdered along the trail. The crime is still unsolved.

Collection: Hikers
Laura Winans 1996 Shenandoah National Park Murder Victim.jpg

This is a photo of Julianne Williams, a hiker who visited Shenandoah National Park in late May of 1996. Williams, partner Laura Winans, and dog Taj were spending a few days on the Appalachian Trail together. However, Williams and Winans never left the trail; they were murdered sometime between May 24 and June 1, 1996. The crime is still unsolved.

Collection: Hikers
Julianne Williams 1996 Shenandoah National Park Murder Victim.jpg

This is a map from the National Park Service that depicts Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive. This map in displays the highway from Mathews Arm to Lewis Mountain.

Map of Skyline Drive and Skyland Resort.pdf

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

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:

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.

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.


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.

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