Appalachian Trail Histories

Menu
During the first four decades of the Trail's existence, the majority of its route passed over private property. The local trail clubs and the ATC secured rights of way over these private lands through a series of agreements--some formal, some informal--that gave the clubs the right to build the trail across an individual's land, gave hikers the right to pass through, and sometimes included the right to build a shelter on the landowner's property. This sample easement from 1938 shows that the ATC was often able to secure these rights of way at minimal cost (in this case, $1.00). At the same time, these agreements were very fragile, generally giving the landowner the right to revoke or cancel the agreement with 30 days notice. As a result, the Trail was often rerouted when an easement was canceled, or when the property through which it passed changed hands.

Collection: Legislation
ATC405a.jpg

Thru hiker Julius Bruggeman passing through Shenandoah National Park, June 12, 1970. Unlike most Appalachian Trail hikers, Bruggeman made his own pack and much of his other gear.

Collection: Hikers
ATC019a.jpg

A group of women who called themselves the "Mountain Marchin' Mamas" backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in the spring of 1988.

Collection: Hikers
ATC188.jpg

A group of backpackers on the Chimney Pond Trail, near Mount Katahdin in Maine, July 1, 1939.

Collection: Hikers
ATC178a.jpg

A member of the Philadelphia Hiking Club resting along the Appalachian Trail near Smith Gap, April 19, 1935.

Collection: Hikers
PTC045a.jpg

The Appalachian Trail lean-to (shelter) at Deep Gap near Standing Indian Mountain, North Carolina.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC063small.jpg

Members of the Philadelphia Trail Club at an unidentified Appalachian Trail shelter, Easter Weekend, 1933. The man on the left is George W. Outerbridge, the second person to hike every step of the Appalachian Trail after Myron Avery. The woman on the right is likely Mary Kilpatrick, the first woman to hike every step of the Trail, and one of the two men in the center of the image is likely her husband, Martin Kilpatrick, the third person to complete every step of the Trail. Outerbridge and the Kilpatricks were leaders of the Philadelphia Trail Club and section hiked the AT during the 1930s.

Collection: Hikers
PTC009.jpg

Nantahala Gorge, photographed by George Masa in the early 1930s. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River in the Gorge, before climbing back up to a series of 5,000 foot summits on either side of the river.

Collection: Iconic Locations
ATC155small.jpeg

A route map of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This map shows not only the route of the Parkway, but also the year when each section of the road was completed. The Parkway began as a New Deal project in 1935 and was not completed until 1987. Altogether, the Parkway is 469 miles long and at its north end it connects with Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, which adds another 105 miles to the route. The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park system and is the most visited of all the national parks since the end of the Second World War.

Collection: Maps
LOC001.jpg

Myron Avery was the second chairman of the Appalachian Trail Conference and was one of the founders of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and served as that club's president for many years. Under his stewardship, the ATC and its associated clubs completed the Appalachian Trail in 1937. Avery was the driving force behind the creation of a number of the southern trail-maintaining clubs, and was the Trail's fiercest defender from the time he assumed the ATC chairmanship until his death in 1952.

Collection: Builders
avery054.jpg

A trail maintainer along the Appalachian Trail in 1932. The caption on the reverse of this photograph reads: "Homeward bound, with her pack and pruning shears after a day's work on the Appalachian Trail." Trail volunteers like this young woman were, and remain, essential to the building and maintaining of the Appalachian Trail.

Collection: Trail Clubs
ATC146 small.jpg