A historical pictorial of the Appalachian Trail at Chester Library

The Appalachian Trail, celebrating its 75th year, will be the subject of discussion at Chester Library’s Morning Coffee Break next Tuesday.  A Pictorial History of Virginia’s Appalachian Trail with Leonard Adkins will provide a look at life in the mountains before and during the trail’s creation. The 2,174 mile scenic trail has been stated to be the most famous hiking trail in the world. It runs from Maine to Georgia with one-fourth of the trail passing through Virginia.

Adkins has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail five times, and is the author of 16 books about the outdoors, nature, and travel, including five concerning the trail. He has aided the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in identifying and protecting rare and endangered plants by being a Natural Heritage Monitor and a ridge runner. He has also been on the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s Board of Directors, a volunteer maintainer of a trail section near McAfee Knob, and as a field editor for the foremost guide for Appalachian Trail hikers that is updated annually. Along with providing a pictorial history of life before and after the trail’s completion, his latest book, “Images of America: Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail” takes a look in how it came into being, who its early champions were, the many relocations the trail has experienced, and the volunteers who have constructed and maintained it.

The trail was proposed by Benton MacKaye of Massachusetts in an article he penned in the October, 1921 edition of the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, entitled “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning.”  He was the regional planner and forester for the U.S. Forest Service at the time and according to an article written by Chris Gailey, his idea for a continuous wilderness trail was “to provide leisure, enjoyment, and the study of nature for people living in the urban areas of the eastern United States,”
Over 6,000 people have hiked the entire trail which can take several months, while many others have enjoyed day-trips. More than 99 percent of the trail is protected by federal or state ownership and  is maintained  annually by more than 4,000 volunteers.

The unpublished photographs in “Images of American: Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail” include scenes from McAfee Knob and Catawba Mountain in the early part of the 20th century and the trail’s original route along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Morning Coffee Break with Leonard Adkins, suggested for adults 55 and over, will be this Tuesday, July 16 from 10:30 a.m. until Noon.  Refreshments will be served compliments of the Friends of the Library and registration is not required. Chester Library is located in the Village Green at 11800 Centre Street.  To learn more about Leonard Adkins visit www.habitualhiker.com.

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