The 2016 Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame class honorees are Maurice J. Forrester, Jr. of Williamsport, PA; Horace Kephart of Bryson City, NC; Larry Luxenberg, of New City, NY; and Henry Arch Nichols, of Ashville, NC.
Maurice Forrester has spent his entire adult life advocating for and documenting the Appalachian Trail, as well as other trails in his native Pennsylvania. From 1975 to 1992, he served Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy) as Treasurer, Newsletter Editor and member of the Board of Managers. He served as Chair of ATC's 1989 Biennial meeting in East Stroudsburg, PA. From 1976 through 1989, he has served Keystone Trail Association as President and Newsletter Editor. His quarterly column, "The View From Cogan Station", appeared in KTA's newsletter from 1978 through 1992. He has also served on numerous trail advocacy boards and committees in Pennsylvania. He was a founding director of the Appalachian Trail Museum, leading the effort to secure its home in the Old Mill building at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Here, he is shown hiking in 1975.
Mr. Forrester is perhaps best known for his writings. He served as editor of several editions of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. He is co-author of A Grip On The Mane Of Life, the definitive biography of Earl Shaffer, the A.T.'s first thru-hiker. He also wrote the forward to Earl Shaffer's famous autobiography, Walking With Spring and to Larry Luxenberg's Walking The Appalachian Trail. He was the lead author of the history of KTA's first 50 years.
Horace Kephart, a writer and outdoors advocate, was born in Pennsylvania in 1862. He spent considerable time as a librarian in Italy and St. Louis, Missouri. In 1904, he moved to western North Carolina, where he spent the rest of his life. He became a leader in the movement to preserve America's wild spaces through the formation of national parks. In particular, Kephart and his friend photographer George Masa spent decades advocating for the preservation of the mountainous wilderness along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. That effort ultimately succeeded when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was chartered by Congress in 1934 and opened in 1940.
Kephart signed on to Benton MacKaye's dream of an Appalachian Trail in the 1920s. He played a major role in laying out the 70 mile route that the Appalachian Trail takes through the Smokies. Kephart first wrote of his experiences in the Smokies in a series of articles in the magazine Field & Stream. These were incorporated into his first book, Camping and Woodcraft. His best known book is Our Southern Highlanders, published in 1913 and expanded in 1922. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1931, just as his proposed Appalachian Trail route was being built. Just before his death, Mt. Kephart in the Smokies was named in his honor.
Late in 2015, the members of the A.T. Hall of Fame selection committee other than Larry unanimously decided that the time had come to honor Larry with induction into the A.T. Hall of Fame. Larry neither sought this honor nor did he even know about it until the other members of the committee informed him recently. When told of his induction, Larry protested mildly that he has a long list of trail pioneers who deserve induction before him. To those who know Larry well, this reaction is unsurprising, though inaccurate.
Beyond designing and building the trail himself, Mr. Nichols attracted others to the trail movement. He was a leader in the Carolina Mountain Club for many years, and helped to develop the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club. One of his best known recruits was Rev. A. Rufus Morgan, who almost single-handedly maintained 50 miles of the trail for decades. Described by longtime ATC Executive Director David Startzell as a "gentle giant" of the A.T., Mr. Nichols tirelessly advocated for the preservation of precious trail icons like Max Patch, Hump Mountain and the Highlands of Roan. He died in 1989 at age 81.
Five classes have previously been elected to the A.T. Hall of Fame. The Charter Class, elected in 2011, was comprised of Myron Avery, Gene Espy, Ed Garvey, Benton MacKaye, Arthur Perkins and Earl Shaffer. Members of the 2012 class were Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, David A Richie, J. Frank Schairer, Dr. Jean Stephenson and Major William Adams Welch. The 2013 Class was Ruth Blackburn, David Field, David Sherman, David Startzell and Everett (Eddie) Stone. The 2014 Class was A. Rufus Morgan, Charles R. Rinaldi, Clarence S. Stein and Pamela Underhill. The 2015 Class was Nestell K. "Ned" Anderson, Margaret C. Drummond, Stanley A. Murray and Raymond H. Torrey.
Jim Foster, chair of the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame selection committee, said a 6 p.m. reception will precede the dinner, which begins at 7 p.m. The cost of the reception and dinner is $30 for museum members and $40 for others.
Complete information on the Hall of Fame Banquet is available at https://2016athalloffamebanquet.eventbrite.com Tickets may be purchased either at that website, or directly from the Appalachian Trail Museum by sending a check to:
Appalachian Trail Museum
1120 Pine Grove Road
Gardners, PA 17324
Questions about the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Allenberry and to reserve a room, call 1-800-430-5468 or (717) 258-3211, or go to http://www.allenberry.com/ For other lodging options, visit the Museum's website, www.atmuseum.org