Appalachian Trail Histories

Menu
Lewis Mountain Negro Area, Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park opened in 1935 as one of the first National Parks in the American South and following local custom, was segregated. The decision to segregate the park's facilities was controversial. The park remained segregated until 1950.

Lewis Mountain Negro Area.jpg

Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP lobbied Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to desegregate the facilities at Shenandoah National Park.

Walter White loc.jpg

Memorandum from Arthur E. Demaray, Associate Director National Park Service to Director National Park Service (presumably Arno B. Cammerer) with regards to segregation in Shenandoah National Park

Demaray_1939_segregation_memo.pdf

1938 Map shows segregated areas of Shenandoah National Park. The map was distributed to park visitors. When the park first opened there were no facilities for African Americans. Facilities for African Americans at Lewis Mountain finally opened in 1939.

Guide Map of Shenandoah NP, VA 1938.jpg

Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior. Ickes ordered the desegregation of facilities at Shenandoah National Park. Local park officials and Virginia Senator Byrd resisted his efforts. The Park's facilities would not be completely desegregated until 1950.

Harold Ickes portrait library of congress.jpg

William J. Trent, Jr. was the Advisor on Negro Affairs to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. Trent played an important role in the struggle to desegregate the park's facilities.

William J. Trent, Jr. .png

Partial map of the Central District of Shenandoah National Park produced by the Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy) in June 1933. This map shows the area around Old Rag Mountain, Nicholson and Corbin Hollows, Skyland Resort, and Thornton Gap before the removal of the mountain residents.

SNP Central Map ATC.pdf

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.

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.

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.

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