Appalachian Trail Histories

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

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.


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.


Photograph of Corbin Cabin, photographer unknown, but likely Ed Garvey. This photograph was taken before the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) took control of the cabin from the National Park Service and renovated it for use by hikers in 1954.


Photograph of Corbin Cabin, undated, but between the mid-1930s when George Corbin was forced to move out by the Commonwealth of Virginia and 1954 when the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club renovated the cabin.


A humorous and artistic account of the "Battle of Corbin Cabin" by anonymous renters in the summer of 2014.
Hikers staying at the shelters and cabins along the Appalachian Trail use the log books to let the world know they were there, to comment on the state of their feet, the weather, the wildlife they've seen recently, on "trail magic" to be found up or down the trail, on creepy or just worrisome people seen along the trail, on the condition of the shelter or cabin, or to leave messages for friends and family. This particularly fanciful entry in the log book at Corbin Cabin, complete with blood stains, is an example of one of the more exceptional genres of log book entries--the fictional (we hope) illustrated story.


Photograph of Corbin Cabin, undated, but between the mid-1930s when George Corbin was forced to move out by the Commonwealth of Virginia and 1954 when the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club renovated the cabin.