Appalachian Trail Histories

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Leaving the bus on a PATC trip to Smoke Hole, West Virginia, April 19, 1936. PATC hiking trips during this era were often organized with bus service for members.

Collection: Trail Clubs
PATC Smokehole 1936.jpg

The Three Springs Shelter was located in what is now known as the Roller Coaster section of the Appalachian Trail in Northern Virginia just north of the FEMA Mount Weather Operations Center. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on private land, the ownership of this shelter passed to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in 1969, when the club purchased the shelter and 15 surrounding acres of land, including a section of the AT. This shelter no longer exists. 

The 1941 ATC Guide to the Paths of the Blue Ridge offers this description:
Three Springs Lean-to is situated in a small clearing near the summit of the Blue Ridge on its southeast slope one mile north of Mt. Weather. It occupies the site of the old Ashby farmhouse that had been built early in the nineteenth century. There is a chimney over the fireplace.
At that time, the Appalachian Trail was located on the east side of Blue Ridge Mountain Road, but was later re-routed onto the western side of the ridgeline.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Three Springs Shelter 1941.jpg

The Ashby Gap Shelter in Northern Virginia was located just west of the village of Paris. Built by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in the 1941 on a tract of private land, the shelter was torn down in 1955, when the AT was re-routed away from the site. The 1941 ATC Guide to the Paths of the Blue Ridge offers this description:
Ashby Gap Lean-to is situated in a clearing near the summit of the Blue Ridge on the northwest slope, a little over a mile south of Ashby Gap. It is close to the site of an old cabin.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Ashby Gap Shelter VA.jpg

Members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), and the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC) on a group hike to McAfee Knob, October 1935.

Collection: Iconic Locations
McAfee 1935.jpg

The Ashby Gap Shelter in Northern Virginia was located just west of the village of Paris. Built by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in the 1941 on a tract of private land, the shelter was torn down in 1955, when the AT was re-routed away from the site. The 1941 ATC Guide to the Paths of the Blue Ridge offers this description:
Ashby Gap Lean-to is situated in a clearing near the summit of the Blue Ridge on the northwest slope, a little over a mile south of Ashby Gap. It is close to the site of an old cabin.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Ashby Gap Shelter.jpg

Pinefield Hut was built in the summer of 1940 in a style typical to Shenandoah National Park (VA) at this time--a stone base with a wooden roof. This shelter is maintained by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Pinefield Hut 08292015MK.jpg

Pass Mountain Hut was built in 1939, and is constructed largely out of stone. It is located in Shenandoah National Park, on the east face of the mountains, about one mile north of Thornton Gap, where Highway 211 crosses Skyline Drive. Today the area around the shelter is heavily wooded, but when it was first built hikers had views up to Mary's Rock above Thornton Gap and into the foothills of Rappahannock County, Virginia. The Pass Mountain Hut was built and is still maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Pass Mountain Hut 04032015MK.jpg

The Crampton Gap Shelter is located near Frederick, Maryland and is one of the original log lean-tos built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1939. It is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.


Collection: Trail Shelters
Crampton Gap Shelter 06232012MK(1).jpg

The Antietam Shelter, located in the Mont Alto (now MIchaux) State Forest (PA), was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. It is located on the banks of Little Antietam Creek. Maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, this shelter is slated to be moved to a new location, possibly on the Tuscarora Trail, in the near future, due to its proximity to the popular Old Forge Picnic Grounds.



Collection: Trail Shelters
Antietam Shelter 2017MK.jpg

The privy at the Manassas Gap Shelter is built according to the original recommendations of the Appalachian Trail Conference in 1940. The shelter and its privy are maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Manassas Gap privy 9813.jpg

In 1953, George F. Miller became the sixth person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one year, and at age 72, was by far the oldest.

A retired college professor living in Washington, D.C., was a seasoned long distance walker--as a young man he walked more than 1,000 miles from Farmington, Missouri to Washington in just 26 days.

Miller was also an innovator when it came to his gear. As the photograph here shows, his pack (which he made himself) consisted of four separate units spread from his chest to his back.

Collection: Hikers
George Miller.jpg

An account of a ten-day trip on the Appalachian Trail by Ben Beck of the Maryland Appalachian Trail Club. Beck and his friend Herb Robertson hiked from Harper's Ferry south to the Skyland Resort in the newly created Shenandoah National Park between June 13-23, 1935, a total of 79 miles.

At that time there were only a few shelters (Sexton, Meadow Spring, Range View) available for their use, so they either camped under the stars, in the ruins of abandoned houses, or stayed in bunks at CCC work camps.

Trail conditions varied widely during their hike, from recently cleared and well-maintained, to almost impossible. "The trail was bad this morning. Very rough and uncleared. Berry bushes and ferns up to your shoulders…All the springs along here are classified as intermittent. Damned intermittent if you ask me. They’re all dry."

Their diet consisted mostly of onion and bacon sandwiches, canned peaches, dried fruit, and instant noodle soup, and whatever they could purchase at stores they passed along the way.

Collection: Hikers
10 Days on the AT.jpg