Chances are you’re going to be doing some hiking this summer. If so, you should know that one of the country’s best spots for a woodland adventure is, of course, the Appalachian Trail, but what you might not know is that smack dab in the middle you’ll come across a small museum dedicated to the thousands of people who have passed by over the years.
Since 2001 the tiny museum on the trail has been dedicated to the protecting the legends and stories about the community of people who founded, preserved, protected, and hiked the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail since its creation in 1923.
The museum is located long Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and it’s not just the contents that are historically significant. The museum itself was built over two hundred years ago, and at the time was used as a grist mill. Today it’s across from one of the most famous points of the Appalachian Trail, the Pine Grove General Store, which is traditionally the half-way mark, and where hikers stop to attempt the famous ritual of trying to eat half a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Strange, I know.
“The Appalachian Trail Museum Society serves the Appalachian Trail community by telling the stories of the founding, construction, preservation, maintenance, protection, and enjoyment of the Trail since its creation. The Museum will collect, preserve, and interpret materials relevant to these subjects in an effort to 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.” - atmuseum.org
Today the museum currently exhibits over 13,000 images of hikers who have passed though the area over the years, and they also have a trail shelter built by famous hiking legend Earl Shafer. In 1948 Share was the first person to hike the entire trail and has gone down in hiker infamy.
If you’re going to be doing some hiking this summer, particularly at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, stop at the Appalachian Trail Museum and spend some time exploring the history and people who have helped make it what it is today. Oh, and while you’re there, why try taking the half gallon ice cream challenge, it’s not like you have to worry about the calories because you’ve still got a big hike ahead of you!
Featured image credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli