The Avery Legacy
Myron Avery was, by all accounts, not made for a desk.
He was a mover, a motivator, and a shaker—and not in the 19th century religious sense, either. People either loved or hated him; there were few who knew him who did not have a strong opinion about him.
While it’s probably true that without Benton MacKaye the concept of the Appalachian Trail might not have been born, it’s a fact that, without Myron Avery, there wouldn’t be an Appalachian Trail for feet to trod.
Avery took the fledgling PATC and made it into an engine for trail construction and new club development.The early and few members of PATC not only created the Appalachian Trail from the Tye River in Virginia to Pine Grove Furnace in Pennsylvania, they encouraged others to form additional A.T. clubs and helped them as they became organized and set into the tasks they voluntarily took on.
Our “commuting” time to go out for a weekend trail project may be delayed by heavy traffic around the major metropolitan area—Washington D.C., Baltimore, or Richmond. But, once we’re beyond a Beltway, we can push our individual cars to speeds unheard of in 1930.
Just Think About It…
- Between 1920 and 1940, the miles of paved highways were far fewer than today.
- Most people worked not only from Monday through Friday, they also worked at least half a day on Saturdays.
- In order to go out into the Blue Ridge mountains to scout passable lines for the new AT, Club members had to start out on Saturday afternoon and return by Sunday evening.
- In order to cross the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers by Harpers Ferry, people had to use ferries pushed by pole men.
It was a different time, indeed. Club members went out together by bus or train and hiked miles up into the Blue Ridge just to arrive at their work site. Before the Shenandoah National Park was established, they met and dealt with mountaineers in the communities that were then vibrant but whose traces are often difficult to find. The Club grew slowly then, but it’s members were a close-knit community within themselves. And, they welcomed newcomers.
Public spirit and camaraderie meant a lot to those men and women. They laid out and maintained the Appalachian Trail in its infancy, established and maintained relations with others up and down the Appalachian chain, and served their nation with distinction when called to arms in World War II.
Oh, and those who stayed behind to work in industry and government during the War continued to make the trek, as best they could, to keep the little-used Trail open.
For more detailed information, read Carol Niedzialek’s excellent Short History of the PATC.