Appalachian Trail Histories

Menu
After ascending the Indian Ladder out of the Dan River Gorge, thru hiker Gene turned and took this photograph of the Pinnacles of Dan from the Northeast rim of the Gorge. Espy was the second person to successfully complete a hike of the entire trail in one season.

Pinnacles of Dan East.jpg

As he passed through the Dan River Gorge in July 1951, Gene Espy took this photograph of what he called "Growed over trail, Virginia" (on the reverse). The image was taken near the famed "Indian Ladder" that took hikers into or out of the Gorge. Espy was the second person to successfully hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one season. The image also gives a clear sense for how poor trail conditions were in 1951.

Growed Over Trail.jpg

In 1951, Gene Espy completed the second successful thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in one season. He took this photograph of the Pinnacles of Dan in July 1951, as he passed through the Dan River Gorge on his way north.

Pinnacles of Dan.jpg

The Dan River Gorge as seen from the summit of the Pinnacles of Dan, July 1951. This image, taken by Gene Espy during his thru hike -- the second successful thru hike of the Appalachian Trail -- offers a sense for how steep the drop was from the summit of the Pinnacles to the river below.

Dan River Gorge.jpg

Hikers on the old route of the Appalachian Trail crossed the Dan River at the bottom of the Dan River Gorge, either just after descending the Pinnacles (if hiking northbound) or just before ascending the Pinnacles (if hiking southbound). This photograph from 1932 shows the river crossing as it was in the original version the trail. The creation of two dams in the Gorge required the trail's overseers to relocate the river crossing to avoid the inundation created by the dams.

IMG_20181130_135911.jpg

The Townes Diversion Dam is one of two hydroelectric dams built in the Dan River Gorge in the late 1930s by the Danville Power Authority to generate power for the city of Danville. These two dams forced the old route of the Appalachian Trail to move to avoid the lakes created for the project, however, the trail continued to traverse the Gorge and the Pinnacles of Dan until it was relocated west in 1952.

Scan 9.jpeg

The Dan River Gorge, also known as the Kibler Valley, as seen from the summit of the Pinnacles of Dan in Southwestern Virginia.

This black and white lantern slide is part of a set of promotional slides used by the Appalachian Trail Conference to promote hiking the trail beginning in the late 1930s. ATC members could borrow the slides for public presentations. This particular image was from a photograph taken by ATC Chairman Myron Avery in the early 1930s during one of his many tours of the trail in Southwestern Virginia.

The Pinnacles were regularly described by AT hikers as the single most difficult part of the hike, except perhaps the climb of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Today the Dan River Gorge (where the Pinnacles are located) is closed to hikers. The Gorge itself is now largely filled in by two lakes created in the late 1930s by the Danville Power Authority when they dammed the Dan River.

IMG_20181130_154034.jpg

This black and white lantern slide of the Pinnacles of Dan in Southwestern Virginia is part of a set of promotional slides used by the Appalachian Trail Conference to promote hiking the trail beginning in the late 1930s. ATC members could borrow the slides for public presentations. This particular image was from a photograph taken by ATC Chairman Myron Avery in the early 1930s during one of his many tours of the trail in Southwestern Virginia.

The Pinnacles were regularly described by AT hikers as the single most difficult part of the hike, except perhaps the climb of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Today the Dan River Gorge (where the Pinnacles are located) is closed to hikers.

IMG_20181130_154021.jpg

A group of hikers on the Pinnacles of Dan in 1908, led by John Barnard (in hat on far left). Barnard later became the overseer of the Appalachian Trail in Patrick County, VA, and was described as the "King of the Pinnacles" in a story about the trail that appeared in National Geographic Magazine in the 1940s. 

The Pinnacles were regularly described by AT hikers as the single most difficult part of the hike, except perhaps the climb of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Today the Dan River Gorge (where the Pinnacles are located) is closed to hikers.

Scan.jpeg

From the reverse: The Little Falls of Dan, one mile north of Pinnacles of Dan. The fall here of Dan River is 90 or 100 ft. The River here flowing through the great crevice of rock and around huge boulders at a tremendous rapid rate which is interesting to observe and very beautiful. Frank Cox in picture.

Scan 11.jpeg

This photograph of a hiker in the Dan River Gorge near the Pinnacles of Dan in 1931 is part of a collection of glass lantern slides held by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy archives. These slides were created in the 1930s to be used for promotional talks about the Appalachian Trail as part of the ATC's efforts to increase the visibility and use of the trail.

IMG_20181130_154049.jpg

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.

Scan 4.jpeg