A.T. Hall of Fame - 2011 Charter Class
Myron Avery He, along with five colleagues, founded the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in 1927. He was elected president of PATC, and remained in that position until 1941. In 1930 he became acting chairman of what was then known as the Appalachian Trail Conference. In 1931 he was elected to the chairmanship, a position that he held until 1952. A dynamo of activity, he seized control of the Appalachian Trail project and drove it to completion. If Benton MacKaye envisioned the trail, this gentleman built it. He knitted the trail clubs together into a cohesive group, communicating by letter to volunteers up and down the Atlantic Seaboard.
Gene Espy In 1951, Gene became the second person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. His well known book, “The Trail of My Life” has inspired many to follow in his footsteps. He has lived a life full of adventures including hiking, bicycling, spelunking, boating and motorcycling. From an early age, this Eagle Scout, Georgia Tech graduate, and U.S. Air Force aerospace engineer explored the world around him just for fun. The highlight of all his adventures was his AT thru-hike. He is a well-known speaker who enjoys telling about his AT hike and many other experiences. His now vintage hiking equipment is on display in the visitors center at Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia near the approach trail to Springer Mountain.
Ed Garvey Ed thru-hiked the AT in 1970. The popularity of his 1971 book, “Appalachian Hiker,” arguably did more to raise the awareness of thru-hiking than any other single event. In his book, he carefully explained his preparations and gathered useful information along the way that would be of benefit to those who would follow in his footsteps. Beyond hiking the trail and writing about it, he was also the principal force behind the 1978 amendment to the National Trail Systems Act.
Benton MacKaye Most great achievements start out as an idea in the mind of a single individual. That is surely true of the Appalachian Trail. He first proposed the idea of an Appalachian Trail in his 1921 article "An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning". He was responsible for convening and organizing the first Appalachian Trail "conference" in Washington, D.C., in 1925. That gathering of hikers, foresters, and public officials embraced the goal of building the Trail. The very concept of the A.T. resulted from this man's dream. Without his vision and inspiration, the Appalachian Trail would never have been thought of, let alone built.
Judge Arthur Perkins Due to his unfortunate death in the early 1930s, the critical role Judge Perkins played in bringing to reality Benton MacKaye’s dream of an Appalachian Trail is not well known to the modern generation. After MacKaye's initial inspiration in the early 1920s, work on building the AT had largely stalled by a few years afterward. He took up the concept and pushed it forward relentlessly in the mid 1920s. Without his persistence, the AT would probably have been just another good idea that never came to reality. Equally important, his advocacy of the AT idea piqued the interest of a young lawyer named Myron Avery.
Earl Shaffer Our final inductee into the Charter Class grew up and lived most of his life just over South Mountain a short distance from the A.T. Museum in York County, Pennsylvania. He served with honor in the Pacific Theater in World War II. While many people had hiked parts of the trail before him, few if any thought about hiking the entire trail at one time. His notion of a 2,000-mile continuous wilderness foot expedition was unheard of before his initial “Walk with Spring” in 1948. This pioneering effort helped to popularize the AT and crystallize how we think of the Trail today.
The Charter Class was honored at the First Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet, on June 17, 2011. HERE is a gallery of photos from the Banquet.