"The Appalachian Trail Museum began as an idea more than a dozen years ago. Through the hard work of volunteers, it will open as the only museum in the United States dedicated to hiking," said Larry Luxenberg, founder and president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society. "It is fitting that June 5 also is National Trails Day and, in conjunction with the museum opening, there will be South Mountain area hikes and trail maintenance outings."
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Executive Director David Startzell and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Rebecca Harriett will speak at the grand opening ceremonies that begin at 11 a.m. Local dulcimer, banjo and harmonica musician and recording artist Tom Jolin will perform before and after the dedication. In addition to performing on National Public Radio, he has performed for the Vice President of the United States and with Garrison Keillor.
Admission to the museum is free, and inside exhibits will honor those who laid out and first hiked the 2,179 mile trail that connects 14 states from Maine to Georgia. The museum's interior space was designed by LSC Design of York, Pennsylvania, and the exhibits by Bonnie Ralston of New York, New York. Graphik Masters, also of York, was the exhibit fabricator.
Exhibits at the museum will tell the stories of the founding, construction, preservation, maintenance, protection and enjoyment of the trail since its inception in the 1920s. The museum will portray not only the history of the 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 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.
In the museum's hiker center, thousands of pictures of Appalachian Trail hikers will be on display. Visitors also will be able to meet thru-hikers who will stop at the museum to register, record their progress, make notes and leave messages.
Following the formal opening of the museum, visitors can participate in afternoon programs that will include presentations by relatives of the pioneer thru-hikers, information sessions on hiking the Appalachian Trail and history briefings on the Pine Grove Furnace area. There also will be children's programs throughout the afternoon.
The Appalachian Trail Museum will be 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. The museum is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park's National Historic District and across the road from the Pine Grove General Store. It also is near the Ironmasters Hostel, and two miles from the midway point of the Appalachian Trail. Both the store and the hostel are popular stops for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.
Restoration work on the 200-year-old grist mill that houses the museum was done largely by volunteers under the leadership of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's North Chapter "Yankee Clippers" crew. Luxenberg said the Appalachian Trail Museum Society is looking for volunteers to help staff the building and others to lead programs such as talks, nature walks and demonstrations of outdoor skills with an emphasis on programming for children. The museum society is continuing to collect artifacts. More information is available at the museum's website, www.atmuseum.org and firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Appalachian Trail Museum Society
The Appalachian Trail Museum Society, a 501-C-3 not-for-profit organization formed in 2002, is organizing volunteers and fundraising nationwide to establish the Appalachian Trail Museum 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. The museum is located in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Pennsylvania, conveniently near Carlisle, Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pennslynvania. Additional information is available at www.atmuseum.org.
MEDIA CONTACT - Joe Patterson Appalachian Trail Museum Society
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