The Appalachian Trail Museum opened in 2011 and is located in Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park, very close to the half way point on the A. T. The museum incorporated a Hall of Fame in order to celebrate the personal historicity of this long trail. As my way of supporting and promoting the museum as well as satisfying my thirst for interesting facts about this incredible adventure called thru-hiking, I would like to highlight the individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame. This blog will highlight the chartered class (2011) of six individuals. For more information and details about the museum check out: http://www.atmuseum.org/intro.htm
Benton MacKaye – Without Benton MacKaye, there would have been no trail. He first proposed the idea of an Appalachian Trail in his 1921 article, “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning.” MacKaye was responsible for calling together the first Appalachian Trail “Conference” (now Conservancy – ATC) in 1925. The ATC appointed MacKaye as its first “field organizer.” MacKaye had the vision for constructing a continuous trail over the Appalachian Mountains.
Arthur Perkins – As the ATC’s second chairman (serving from 1927 to 1930), Arthur Perkins took up the challenge to make MacKaye’s dream a reality. Arthur was a Yale graduate and a retired lawyer and judge who hailed from Hartford Connecticut. After MacKaye’s initial inspiration in the early 1920s, work on the A.T. had largely stalled. Without Perkins’ persistence, the A.T. might never have been built.
Myron Avery — In 1931 Myron Avery was elected as the third chairman of the ATC, a position he held for over 20 years. Avery was a “Type A” personality who seized control of the Appalachian Trail and diligently drove the idea to completion. If MacKaye envisioned the trail and Perkins promoted it, Avery built it. He unified many trail clubs in several states into a cohesive group. He was the first person to walk the entire trail, carefully pushing his ever-present measuring wheel in front of him. Avery came up with the blaze system (ultimately the white blaze), and the concept of detailed maps and guidebooks. Avery wanted the trail to be accessible to the average joe – to be what he called a “people’s trail.”
Earl Shaffer — While MacKaye birthed the concept of the Trail, Perkins kept the dream alive, and Myron Avery built the Trail, it was Earl Shaffer, in 1948, who pioneered the concept of thru-hiking. His crazy idea of thru-hiking all 2,000 miles in the wilderness by foot was unheard of at the time. His initial adventure did much to popularize the A.T. and to change how we think of the trail today. Thousands of thru-hikers have retraced Earl’s footsteps over the years. I hope to be one of them.
Gene Espy — In 1951, Gene became the second person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (three years after Earl). He began his hike on May 31, 1951 at Mount Oglethorpe, GA and completed it on September 30, 1951 on Mount Katahdin, ME. His recent book (2008), “The Trail of My Life — The Gene Espy Story” has inspired many to follow in his footsteps. Gene is a Georgia Tech graduate who had a successful career as a U.S. Air Force aerospace engineer.
Ed Garvey – Ed Garvey wrote a book in 1971 about his 1970 thru-hike called “Appalachian Hiker.” He was 55 years old and completed his thru-hike in 187 days. The popularity of his book did a great deal to raise the awareness of thru-hiking. In the book, Ed carefully explained his preparations for the journey and passed on helpful tips and practical insights to future thru-hikers. In 1990, he hiked the entire trail again at age 75.
Six well deserved honorees.
- Pennsylvania Part 3 – The A.T. Museum (hikeitforward.wordpress.com)