Appalachian Trail Histories

Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall and First Lady of the United States Lady Bird Johnson at Grand Teton National Park in 1964. Udall was a strong supporter of the Appalachian Trail and helped with the passage of the National Trails System Act of 1968 that created the Appalachian Trail as a national park.

Collection: Legislation

A route map of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This map shows not only the route of the Parkway, but also the year when each section of the road was completed. The Parkway began as a New Deal project in 1935 and was not completed until 1987. Altogether, the Parkway is 469 miles long and at its north end it connects with Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, which adds another 105 miles to the route. The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park system and is the most visited of all the national parks since the end of the Second World War.

Collection: Maps

Stephen Mather was the first director of the National Park Service, serving in that capacity from 1916-1929. Mather was one of the small group of like-minded conservationists and trail club members who founded the Appalachian Trail Conference in 1925.

Collection: Builders

Richard Stanton (National Park Service) and Jean Stephenson at a Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club Board meeting, November 1971

Collection: Builders

In 1938, the National Park Service published guidelines on the proper types of structures that should be built in the national parks. This booklet, authored by the architect Albert Good, was used by leaders of the Civilian Conservation Corps as guidance for the trail shelters they built along the Appalachian Trail during the 1930s. The description of the lean-to design reads, in part:

In New York State the Adirondack shelter is a tradition, a survival of the primitive shelter of the earliest woodsmen and hunters of this region. The end and rear walls are tightly built of logs, the front is open to the friendly warmth and light of the campfire. The roof slopes gently to the rear and sharply to the front to give a protective overhang.

The Adirondack shelter design was also used by the Appalachian Trail Conference in its guidance to member clubs in 1939 about the shelters they were building in the stretches of of the Trail they were responsible for.

Collection: Trail Shelters
CCC Shelters.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

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


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

Master planning document for the Appalachian Trail, adopted by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in 1981.

Collection: Legislation

The National Trails System Act of 1968 created three types of national trails, "to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation." The three trail types were National Scenic Trails and National Recreation Trails, along with associated side and connecting trails. Two of the most important of the National Scenic Trails were the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Eventually in 1978, a fourth category of trail, National Historical Trails, was added to those protected by the Act. This Act is the foundation stone of federal oversight of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and other long distance trails such as the Continental Divide Trail.

Collection: Legislation