Appalachian Trail Histories

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:

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.


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

Map from the Confederate Engineer Bureau in Richmond, Va. General J.F. Gilmer Chief Engineer . Presented to the West Point Military Academy by his only daughter, Mrs J.F. Minis, Savh, Ga

Nethers Area Map.jpg

Survey map of the land assigned to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) by the National Park Service around Corbin Cabin. Drawing no. 134-60010, Scale 1" = 60'


Transcription of the log book entry:

May 28, 1954 through May 30, 1954

We had a beautiful weekend for the continuance of work & the dedication. Jeannette Fitz Williams & Earl Haskell merit special mention for their vigorous labor in the annex. Besides that, all those whose name appear below the arrow on the previous page contributed largely toward weeding, clearing, mortaring, tarring, painting, & rattle-snake killing. On Sunday afternoon, George Corbin, Chief Ranger Jacobs & Park Naturalist Favour & those whose names appear above the arrow on the previous page began to wander in & all of us finally gathered about 3:30 daylight savings time for the dedication over which President Blackburn presided. He gave a short history of the cabin before PATC & since. He introduced the new overseer, Karl Thrif [sp?], & presented his wife, Ann, with keys, this book, & the cabin sign, while Karl & many others took pictures. Pr. Blackburn introduced next Mr. Corbin who expressed his gratitude for the Club’s interest in his home. The rangers each said a few words & then the piece de resistance [winged?] up by physicist Blackburn & consisting of a spark-plug igniting a few drops of gasoline & thus shooting a can against the door & smashing a bottle of “champagne” against the threshold — but it didn’t work, but after 2 manual efforts, Canada Dry’s best was in smithereens.

At the same decisive moment, several hydrogen filled balloons were released from the attic windows and floated out over the park. Afterwards, George Corbin’s best apple brandy was served to the guests who later staggered up the hill & left the rest of us to continue our work.


A undated photograph of Nicholson Hollow resident Fannie Corbin and one of her children. On the reverse of the print it says "Fannie Corbin and one of her 22 children." Fannie Corbin was a resident of Lower Nicholson Hollow in what is now Shenandoah National Park. This photograph, although undated, was almost certainly taken before the people of Nicholson Hollow were required to move by the Commonwealth of Virginia to make way for the new park in 1936.


This photograph was likely taken in Corbin Hollow, Virginia, in 1930 (photographer unknown), along what is now the called the Corbin Mountain Trail. On the reverse of the print in the archives of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), it says "The Newt and Andrew Nicholson. 1930". Although there is no further information, the photograph likely shows three generations of Nicholsons. "The Newt" is Newton Nicholson (the older man) depicted here. Andrew Nicholson's home was located in Corbin Hollow, while Newton Nicholson's was on the northwest slope of Short Mountain, about two miles to the north of Corbin Hollow along what is now called the Hannah Run Trail. It is possible this photograph was taken there rather than in Corbin Hollow.


This photograph, likely taken by Ed Garvey of the Potomac Appalachian Trial Club (PATC), shows Corbin Cabin between the time that George Corbin was forced to leave his home and the renovation of the cabin by PATC members in 1953-54.


This photograph shows Corbin Cabin under renovation in the spring of 1954. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) took over control and maintenance of the cabin from Shenandoah National Park in 1953 and over the course of a year renovated the structure and turned it into a rental property for Club members and guests.
In this photograph one can see the work going on the repair and restore the bunk room on the side of the cabin.