Appalachian Trail Histories

This is a map from the National Park Service that depicts Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive. This map in displays the highway from Mathews Arm to Lewis Mountain.

Map of Skyline Drive and Skyland Resort.pdf

In 1939 the Appalachian Trail Conference issued guidelines to its member clubs regarding the construction of shelters (then called lean-tos) along the Appalachian Trail. The goal, as stated in this document, was to place shelters approximately 10 miles apart:

Such spacing avoids undue exertion for travelers carrying heavy packs and yet permits "skipping" a lean-to by more strenuously inclined traveler's for their day's journey.

The design of the lean-tos was to follow the general design of the Adirondack shelter: three-walled, with a steeply sloping roof, and a stone fireplace at the front that would radiate heat into the structure.

Collection: Trail Shelters

African American campers enjoy Lewis Mountain campground, Shenandoah National Park. Lewis Mountain was a segregated campground for African Americans that operated from 1937-1941, closed during WWII and reopened in 1945. Lewis Mountain and the rest of the Park's facilities were finally desegregated by 1950

Visitors to Lewis Mountain.jpg

African American Visitors on a bus tour to Shenandoah National Park in 1950. Their sign reads "Educational Tour and Picnic to Shenandoah National Park. Even though the park was desegregated by 1950, Jim Crow segregation laws still existed outside the park. Transportation was segregated and public recreation facilities were often off limits to Black citizens. The park was a welcome escape.

African American Bus Tour 1950.jpg

Whites only picnic area - Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park opened in 1935 as one of the first National Parks (along with Great Smokey Mountain and Mammoth Caves) in the American South. Segregation was a contentious issue from the first. National Parks in the rest of the nation were not segregated, so Black visitors to Shenandoah were dismayed to see whites only signs like this one when they entered the park.

Elk Wallow White only picnic area.jpg

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


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