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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.
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.
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.