Appalachian Trail Histories


A National System of Foot Trails (1945)

Hearings Before the Committee on Roads. House of Representatives. Seventy-Ninth Congress. First Session. On H.R. 2142 (October 24, 1945)

Any further efforts to expand the relationship between the federal government and the Appalachian Trail took a back seat to the Second World War. Following the war, however, a first attempt at expanding federal support for the Trail came from Pennsylvania Congressman Daniel K. Hoch. An avid hiker and a past president of the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club in Central Pennsylvania, Hoch represented a district that included a section of the Appalachian Trail. Through his membership in the Climbing Club, he had gotten to know Myron Avery and several other officers of the ATC, and he hoped that the Appalachian Trail would be but the first of several long distance trails taken under federal protection.

To this end, he offered an amendment to a highway funding bill in the House Committee on Roads to establish a "national system of foot trails." His modest amendment called for $50,000 per year for the acquisition of land or easements for up to 10,000 miles of foot trails in the United States. His proposal was warmly supported by the Appalachian Trail leadership and the hearings on his amendment included testimony by Myron Avery, L. F. Schmeckbier of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, as well as others in favor of Hoch's amendment. Small as it was, Hoch's proposal failed to gain the support of the committee chairman, who saw hiking trails as a local rather than a federal matter. Despite the failure of this effort to provide federal support for land acquisition along the route of the Appalachian Trail, it laid the groundwork for later legislative action to protect the Trail.