Appalachian Trail Histories

In 1952, George Miller hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine at the age of 72. His hike was the seventh completed thru hike of the trail and the third that year. He was also the last thru hiker to follow the old route of the trail through Southwestern Virginia, because in 1953 the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC) completed its relocation of the trail to its current location west of Blacksburg and the route through Floyd, Patrick, Carroll, Grayson, and Washington Counties was abandoned.

In this letter to John Barnard of Meadows of Dan, Miller thanks Barnard for his hospitality and assistance as he passed through Patrick County during the summer of 1952. Barnard was the person in charge of the trail in Patrick County from 1930 until the trail's relocation west.

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The Bell Spur Primitive Baptist Church in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, was an important landmark for hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Patrick County, Virginia from 1930-1952. The Trail passed directly in front of the church and, if one was hiking southbound from Meadows of Dan, turned right toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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John R. Barnard (right) leading a hike in the Dan River Gorge, August, 1936. Barnard was the man responsible for laying out and maintaining the Appalachian Trail in Patrick County, Virginia from 1930-1952. He regularly led hikes along the Trail and throughout the Dan River Gorge throughout this period and continued to do so long after the Trail moved 50 miles west.

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