Appalachian Trail Histories

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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.

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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.

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Byllesby Dam on the New River as seen from Farmer Mountain in early July 1951. This photograph was taken by Gene Espy during his 1951 thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, the second such hike completed in one season.

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This photograph was taken by Gene Espy during his 1951 thru hike of the Appalachian Trail from the Jones Knob lookout, possibly from the fire tower that used to stand there. Espy was the second person to successfully thru hike the trail and likely took this photograph on July 1, 1951.

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A news item in theĀ Floyd News (Floyd, VA) about a planned hike by local Boy Scouts on the Appalachian Trail in Floyd County.

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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.

Bell Spur Church.jpg

Parked at Lover's Leap overlook in Patrick County, Virginia, sometime in the 1930s. Lover's Leap was a popular stop along the Appalachian Trail in Southwestern Virginia between 1930-1952. It is on Highway 58 near Vesta, Virginia, just above the headwaters of the Dan River, and affords spectacular views to the north and east.

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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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This map depicts the Appalachian Trail between Fries and Damascus, Virginia in 1941, including the crossing of the New River at Dixon's Ferry. This original route of the Appalachian Trail was abandoned in 1952, when the Trail was rerouted west into the Jefferson National Forest to the route it follows today.

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The Blackrock Hut (Shelter) is located in the southern district of Shenandoah National Park and is an example of the "hut" style of shelter, built from stone and logs. This shelter was completed in June 1941 and the current shelter is the original structure from 1941.

This particular image depicts a moment in the history of the park and its trail shelters when hikers were banned from overnight camping at or within site of the shelters. The sign leaning against the wall reads, "Overnight camping at or within sight of this shelter is prohibited." The camping prohibition was the result of the Park Superintendent's concern that the AT shelters had become party locations for Park visitors. His closure of the shelters was a point of contention between the Park and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club throughout the 1970s, after which the camping ban was relaxed.

Collection: Trail Shelters
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