GARDNERS, PA. (July 1, 2010) - Its successful grand opening on June 5 has brought national attention and acclaim to the Appalachian Trail Museum, and its organizers are busy seeking input and contributions for the museum's second phase.

"With the very gratifying show of support for the museum leading up to and on our opening, we feel that it is important to keep the momentum going so we can reach our goal of providing professional exhibits on all three floors of the museum," said Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society.  The second floor of the 200-year-old grist mill that was renovated to house the museum was opened on June 5.  Luxenberg said the next section of the building to be prepared for exhibits will be the first floor.

Funding for phase one of the museum was originally estimated to cost about $500,000.  Due to the generosity of volunteers and contributed services, Luxenberg said renovations and the initial exhibits only cost the museum in actual dollars about $50,000.  "We are really grateful for the outpouring of support that we have received thus far," he added.  "We have demonstrated that we are thoughtful stewards of all donations and that the museum has tremendous public appeal."

The museum's first exhibits tell the stories of the founding, construction, preservation, maintenance, protection and enjoyment of the trail since its inception in the 1920s. Among the trail pioneers honored with exhibits are Benton MacKaye who is credited with conceptualizing the Appalachian Trail, and Myron Avery who is credited with spearheading construction of the trail that was completed in 1937. One of the hiker shelters built by York native Earl Shaffer is the museum's first feature exhibit.  In 1948, Shaffer was the first person to hike the trail end to end.   Other thru-hikers who are featured are Gene Espy who, in 1951, became the second person to thru-hike the trail, Grandma Gatewood, who, in 1955 at the age of 67, became the first solo woman thru-hiker and later became the first person to hike the trail more than once, and Ed Garvey of Falls Church, Virginia, who popularized long distance backpacking in the 1970s.

Second phase exhibits will continue to portray not only the history of the Appalachian Trail but also the essence of the physical, intellec­tual, emotional and spiritual human experience of the Appalachian environment and the culture of hiking. Among the exhibits in the second phase will be hiking and trail maintenance artifacts.

Inquiries about becoming a museum volunteer or a sponsor or about making a donation may be made at the museum's website, www.atmuseum.org, and info@atmuseum.org.

Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and at the midway point of the Appalachian Trail, the museum is across from the Pine Grove General Store on Pennsylvania Route 233. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. daily from June 5 to Labor Day and on weekends from noon to 4 p.m. from Labor Day to Oct. 31 plus Columbus Day.

About the Appalachian Trail Museum Society

The Appalachian Trail Museum Society, a 501-C-3 not-for-profit organization formed in 2002, organizes programs, exhibits, volunteers and fundraising nationwide for the Appalachian Trail Museum.  The museum opened on June 5, 2010, as a tribute to the thousands of men, women and families who have hiked and maintained the 2,179 mile long hiking trail that passes through 14 states from Maine to Georgia. Located in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Pennsylvania, the museum is conveniently near Carlisle, Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pennslynvania.  Additional information is available at www.atmuseum.org.

MEDIA CONTACT Joe Patterson Appalachian Trail Museum Society

717-823-7556 joseph.patterson@e-lynxx.con info@atmuseum.org www.atmuseum.org