Feb. 21, 2023

The Lost AT

Today, we’re going to tell you a story from the earliest days of the Appalachian Trail, a time when trail scouts were still trying to find a complete route north or south through what was sometimes unmapped wilderness.

For a limited time, Green Tunnel listeners get 30% off Mills Kelly's new book Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail. Use code TUNNEL23 at arcadiapublishing.com.


Mills Kelly, Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail, The History Press, 2022. 

Brushy River Boys, “Leather Britches,” Galax, Virginia Old Fiddler's Convention, 1964, Smithsonian Folk Ways Recordings, https://folkways.si.edu/galax-virginia-old-fiddlers-convention/old-time/music/album/smithsonian


MILLS KELLY: In the earliest days of the Appalachian Trail, getting across the New River was not efficient. At all. But it was peaceful. 

KELLY: If you were coming from the south, the trail led you down to the river bank just north of Fries, Virginia. Once you reached the bank, you yelled across the river, which was easily 50 yards wide at that point, until someone in the tidy little white house on the far shore heard you.

KELLY: A member of the Dixon family would answer back, and for five cents, would pole across the river to pick you up in their flat bottomed boat named “Redbird.” Then they’d pole you to the other shore so you could continue your hike. If you were coming from the north, you didn’t have to yell. You just knocked politely on their door, paid your nickel, and rode in style while Mr. or Mrs. Dixon poled you across.

KELLY: These days, AT hikers who want to cross the New River in Virginia just stroll across the Virginia Avenue Bridge. It’s not the most peaceful of river crossings since the bridge carries a lot of traffic on U.S. Highway 460. But it’s efficient. And there is no yelling involved. 

KELLY: Unless it's at traffic. 

[Intro music]

KELLY: Welcome to The Green Tunnel. A podcast on the history of the Appalachian Trail. My name is Mills Kelly and I’m your host. 

KELLY: Today, we’re going to tell you a story from the earliest days of the Appalachian Trail, a time when trail scouts were still trying to find a complete route north or south through what was sometimes unmapped wilderness. 

KELLY: And it’s a story about a 300-mile-long section of the Appalachian Trail you almost certainly have never heard of.

[End Intro Music]

KELLY: Throughout its history, the Appalachian Trail has been re-routed so many times that I think it’s fair to say that no one could tell you how often that’s happened. Some of the big changes to the trail are pretty well known. In 1958, the southern terminus at Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia was abandoned in favor of the current terminus at Springer Mountain. And in the early 1970s the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club had to shift the trail off its original route on the crest of Mount Weather in Northern Virginia – a re-route that created the famous “Roller Coaster” section of the trail.

KELLY: Each time the trail moves substantially, rural communities along its route feel the loss of the hikers, the money they spend, and the cultural exchange their presence encourages. 

KELLY: But changes like the abandonment of Mt. Oglethorpe or the creation of the Roller Coaster were small compared to what happened in Southwest Virginia in 1952. The section of trail the Appalachian Trail Conservancy abandoned that year was 300 miles long……15% of the trail at that time.

KELLY: At one level what happened in Southwest Virginia in 1952 is a pretty simple story. 

KELLY: Just like a lot of the Appalachian Trail in its earliest days, large portions of the original route south of Roanoke were on old, abandoned roads or on private property. Moving the trail more than 50 miles to the west into the newly-formed Jefferson National Forest just made good sense.  Because the trail would be on federal land, it would be protected from development. And forest service rangers could provide at least some help with trail maintenance.

KELLY: But I’m a historian, and I know that history is rarely simple.

KELLY: You see, when the trail left the great plateau of Southwest Virginia, and moved off Iron Mountain, that section vanished from the story of the Appalachian Trail. But it did not vanish from the story of the communities that dot Floyd, Patrick, Carroll and Washington counties.

KELLY: If you go to Floyd, or Meadows of Dan, or Galax, or Fries, the trail lives on in the memories of some of the oldest residents of those communities. It’s as alive to them today as it was when smelly, scruffy hikers passed through their lives.

DOUG BELL: My uncle who's 94 now remembers when they came through with measuring wheels and markers and came down through the field and they stopped, and he asked them what they were doing. They said they were marking out the Appalachian Trail and came right past the old homeplace. 

KELLY: That was Doug Bell, who lives with his wife Arlene in Copper Hill, Virginia, about halfway between the towns of Bent Mountain and Check in Floyd County. We first met at the Floyd County Public Library in 2018 when I gave a talk about the Appalachian Trail passing through the area. Doug introduced himself to me, and explained with pride that the trail used to pass right across his grandfather’s farm. Doug took me to visit the old homeplace the following year and showed me all around where the farm had once been and the route the old trail took through the farm.

BELL:  And the trail came past the house right through the front yard, down Little River to the main road, and then I guess turned towards, uh from that point went south towards the Parkway. 

KELLY: Doug was just one of many people I met in 2018 who wanted to tell me all about their family’s connections to the original route of the Appalachian Trail. 

KELLY: Before we dive deeper into the story of what many folks call, “the old trail,” let’s take a moment to visualize the trail’s original and current routes. I’ll be talking about a lot of place names for the next few minutes. But don’t worry. We’ve also included a map of the old and new routes in the show notes on R2 Studios.org. If you want to follow along, pull up the map now….It’s okay. I’ll wait.

KELLY: Ready?

KELLY: Just in case you can’t pull up the map, imagine for a minute that you’re looking at a map of Southwest Virginia; the section of the state that is sandwiched between West Virginia and North Carolina. 

KELLY: In the bottom left-hand corner is Damascus. And in the upper right corner is McAfee Knob, one of the most popular spots on the entire trail.  

KELLY: The trail’s current route goes north from Damascus, through the Grayson Highlands just to the east of town. 

KELLY: It then cuts north and west toward Pearisburg, where it crosses the New River. From there it angles northeast toward Dragon’s Tooth and finally McAfee Knob.

KELLY: Now, wipe the current route from your mind, and go back to Damascus. 

KELLY: Before 1952, when hikers left Damascus, they passed to the north on the ridge called Iron Mountain. 

KELLY: When the trail reached the New River, it dropped down from Farmer Mountain and then followed the river south, until it reached a spot near the mill town of Fries, where hikers crossed the river on that small ferry boat named Redbird. 

KELLY: Then they headed through the furniture manufacturing town of Galax, briefly crossed back into North Carolina for just a few miles, and returned to Virginia near Fancy Gap. 

KELLY: Still with me?

KELLY: From there, hikers dropped down into the Dan River Gorge, before climbing back up onto the great plateau of Virginia. They traversed the rim of that plateau along an old colonial era roadbed.

KELLY: That roadbed became the route followed by the Blue Ridge Parkway today. Eventually, hikers passed just to the south and west of Roanoke, climbing up onto Catawba Mountain where McAfee Knob is located.

KELLY: Great job everybody. I hope we didn’t lose you on the old trail. Now, back to the story of the people who keep the memory of the old trail alive.

KELLY: Sally Dixon Rakes grew up on the east shore of the New River just downstream from Fries. Her family operated that ferry across the river for generations. In the 1930s and 1940s, her mother and father charged five cents to pole hikers across the river in “Redbird.”

SALLY RAKES: We moved to the river when I was three years old. And we moved into a three room house. And there was four of us children then. And two more were born after we moved into the little house. And there was six of us. And we were a year apart. Mother had six babies in six years. You know, we didn't have a lot but we why we grew up and but we never went hungry or anything like that. We had a garden. And some few things like that. We did fish, we loved catfish. Part of the Appalachian Trail did come from Pulaski to near Fries. We lived about a couple of miles below Fries. And there was no bridge there or a ferry, because the Dixon Ferry had been washed out. And then people would need that was out walking the trail would need to come across the river. Because the little dirt road above our house, which is now called the Fries Road. They were you went so far up that road and then you turned and went back across the hill, the Appalachian Trail did. And you knew you're on a trail because they had the little white painted markers on rocks or on a tree or on a post or something. 

KELLY: Even though Sally was a little girl in 1952 when the trail moved, she still remembers the hikers. And one hiker in particular. 

RAKES: And, uh, I remember this one guy. His name was Gene? I understand he’s still living. And he came and Daddy brought him and I think somebody was with him. But he brought him across the river. And we stood and talked a while and later that year, that Christmas he did send us a Christmas card with his picture on it at the end of the trail which was in Maine. And so we really enjoyed that picture.  

KELLY: That man named Gene was the legendary thru hiker Gene Espy, the second person to thru hike the trail, a feat he pulled off in 1951. I met Gene in the summer of 2019, and asked him if he remembered a little girl at the ferry keeper’s house. He said he did…that she spent most of the time hiding behind her mother’s skirts, peering out at him with big eyes. 

KELLY: That little girl was Sally.

KELLY: I’ve spent a lot of time over the past four years tracking down people in Southwest Virginia who still remember what they mostly call, “the old trail.” Dorothy Shifflett was the oldest at 101. 

KELLY: In the 1920s and early 1930s her father, Shirley Cole, was the county agent in the Floyd County state agricultural extension office. Without any prompting from the ATC, he scouted a 150 mile route for the trail near his home. His proposed route ran between the Peaks of Otter near Lynchburg, to the Dixon family’s home on the New River. I wasn’t able to record our conversation, but I did take good notes, and here’s what   had to say about being out on the trail with her father in the early 1930s.

DOROTHY SHIFFLETT (voice actor ALISON LANGFORD): Well, I went with him a time or two. We just went up into the woods some place, set there and talked about it. It was him and me, and a couple of boys from town. There was a school teacher who came with us once. She had made up a song about the trail and we sang the song together. For that trail he organized a bunch of boys. They were 4-H or Future Farmers, I think. He would take them up there to work on the trail and he would name some of the places after the boys who helped him. 

KELLY: Dorothy's pride in her father's role as one of the founders of the Appalachian Trail really came through in our conversation. She kept coming back to it as one of the most important accomplishments in her family history. 

KELLY: But as much as she loved her father Shirley, legendary ATC chairman Myron Avery was not such a fan.

KELLY: You see, throughout its history, management of the Appalachian Trail has been a balancing act between local clubs and the ATC central administration.

KELLY: The local clubs wanted oversight of the trail sections they maintained. Myron Avery wanted to control the entire trail from Washington, D.C.

KELLY: Although Avery wasn’t yet the chairman of the ATC when Shirley Cole mapped out a route for the trail in Southwest Virginia, he was very much in charge of planning where the trail should go, and where it shouldn’t. By 1929, only two significant problems confronted Avery and his team…finding a route from the New Hampshire/Maine border to Mount Katahdin, and finding a route between the Peaks of Otter and Damascus on the Tennessee/Virginia border.

KELLY: To find routes he would approve of, Avery liked to hire experienced trail scouts he trusted. Men including George Masa, Roy Ozmer, and Walter Greene – had to figure out paths through the mountains of Maine, Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Georgia.

KELLY: Avery wanted routes that would be both scenic and just challenging enough to satisfy the rugged hikers in the early AT clubs. Unlike the trail scouts Avery hired to do his bidding, Shirley Cole came up with a route all on his own.  

KELLY: And the route Cole proposed would, he thought, solve one of the two most pressing problems for the ATC – how to connect the two Virginia towns of Damascus and Roanoke. 

KELLY: In 1929, no one at the ATC or in the Virginia trail clubs had a proposal for how to connect those two towns.  And to make matters worse, the most recent map of some of these areas had been drawn by military engineers during the Civil War – more than 60 years earlier. 

KELLY: Myron Avery was not a man who typically expressed doubts. But in this case, he wrote to a friend that Southwest Virginia was truly “a terra incognita.” He just had no clue what to do.

KELLY: If you’ve listened to “Founding the Trail,” the first episode of our show, you’ll know that Avery was a control freak. He hated it when people other than his own men proposed routes for the trail. Which is why Avery had a minor meltdown in the summer of 1930. 

KELLY: At the annual meeting of the ATC at the Skyland Resort in what would soon be Shenandoah National Park, Avery had to sit through a presentation by Shirley Cole about a possible route that Avery knew nothing about. A route that Avery had no control over.

KELLY: And so, Avery took matters into his own hands. He asked one of his most trusted scouts – the Georgia forester Roy Ozmer – to come to Virginia as quickly as possible to scout a route that would be Avery’s route – not Cole’s. 

KELLY: That plan fell apart almost immediately when Ozmer got hopelessly lost in Floyd County and had to ask Shirley Cole to help. Ozmer ended up proposing the route Cole had first suggested–with one exception. Cole wanted the trail to swing south of Roanoke, but that portion of the route never quite materialized for a very good reason. 

KELLY: Diana Christopulos, former president of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, describes that first route this way:

DIANA CHRISTOPULOS: The first route really never was used. It was mapped out in 1931 and marked. And there was no club here at that time and, frankly, they just drew kind of a straight line on what would later become the Blue Ridge Parkway. The area hadn't even been mapped by the US geological services at the time, so i'm sure that seemed like a convenient way to do it, but by 1932. Myron Avery and others had come down here and formed the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club with hikers from Roanoke College, Hollins College, and a women's hiking group called the Nomads. When I Avery came down here and said, well, we want to use this 1931 route, they said, well, I don't think you do. You want to come over here on Tinker Cliffs and McAfee Knob on a little side trail. 

KELLY: Once everyone agreed that taking the trail over McAfee Knob was a better choice than swinging south of Roanoke, marking out the new trail section began. And the route Cole and Ozmer agreed on had several outstanding features. 

CHRISTOPULOS:  Rock Castle Gorge would have been one of the most spectacular and it still has hiking trails all around it and then further south, undoubtedly, the Pinnacles of Dan has these dramatic rock pinnacles that stick up and really steep slopes, and waterfalls, and Avery loved it. And when Jimmy Denton and Tom Campbell did the relocation in the 1950s, a lot of people pushed back on it and Jimmy Denton said, “Man, the one we really felt bad about omitting was the Pinnacles of Dan. It's super hard just up and down and incredibly dramatic. 

KELLY: The section of the old trail that ran through the Dan River Gorge was maintained by a man named John Barnard. One day in 1948, a writer named Robert Brown showed up unannounced at Barnard’s front door. He was researching a story on the AT for National Geographic Magazine. Barnard was happy to board him for the night and while waiting for dinner, Brown wrote:

ROBERT BROWN (voice actor JIM AMBUSKE): “I tipped gently back and forth in a rocker. Black clouds banked up. It was quiet as a desert night. The shower broke and drenched the well-trimmed lawn, the round bed of geraniums ringed with pansies, and the rose bushes along the fence. A spate of water gurgled down the drainpipe.”

KELLY: Before long, Mrs. Barnard invited Brown inside for a meal that would satisfy even the hungriest hiker.

BROWN: Bowls of vegetables and stewed fruit, platters of meat, plates piled high with hot biscuits and cornbread, pitchers of milk and cream, jars of honey and homemade jam crowded the table. There were squash, string beans, and mashed potatoes; hot veal and cold ham; applesauce and pears; and quantities of sweet farm fresh butter to slather on the hot breads. What a feast!

KELLY: Over the past four years I’ve gotten to know John Barnard’s grandson – Ralph Barnard – very well. Ralph grew up at his grandfather’s house. Until 2021, Ralph and his wife Hope lived in that same house where Robert Brown had such a feast. Now they live next door and one of Ralph’s daughters lives in the old home place.

RALPH BARNARD: Yeah, I grew up with grandpa. He's, he was my buddy. And it was a good place to live in. A good place. 

KELLY: Now in his 80s, Ralph has very vivid memories of groups of AT hikers staying at his grandfather’s farm.

BARNARD: Daddy built this this big old barn down here. So they'd have somewhere to milk and everything. They sold milk back then. And uh, when he got the barn built and everything and would have hay upstairs and a lot of the people coming through on the Appalachian Trail, knew grandpa they’d look him up and a lot of them would stay in the barn. And of course, we’d have to check their matches and stuff like that. But he’d let them stay in the barn.  

KELLY: Ralph also remembers taking hikers up and over the Pinnacles of Dan, a section of the trail that hikers at the time described as the second most difficult on the entire AT.

BARNARD: Grandpa he liked, well he he was fascinated by that mountain.  A lot of times he'd walk with them up there. But in later on he got so he he didn't do as much climbing as he did, cause see when you go across Pinnacles down there on the other side of the river they was what we call the Indian Ladder. And the Indian Ladder wasn’t nothing but places in the rock where the Indians hewed out so you get a hold and go up, because that’s a long slick rock there. And we had the trail up through there. That's where the Appalachian trail went. 

KELLY: AT hikers often find themselves face to face with wildlife, but when the trail ran through the Dan River Gorge, they also had to contend…. with panthers.

BARNARD: I come along about the time it they got gone, I remember as a kid that talking about that they'd seen your panther down below the mountain. And you know a panther is pretty good sized cat and he hollers like a woman screaming, you know. So I did and I heard about that. 

KELLY: Not surprisingly, when Avery and the ATC decided to relocate the trail away from Barnard’s part of the state, he wasn’t happy.

BARNARD:  He didn't like it. They should be something that he wrote about that, somewhere. I know he sent a letter back to the people about that. He said it was the most scenic part of the whole, whole trail.  He was talking about the mountain over here you know, and the whole deal. 

KELLY: Ralph is a very good-natured man, but when he thinks back about how his grandfather felt about losing the trail, he shakes his head and stares at floor. As though he was remembering those days back in the 1940s, when he used to hang out with AT hikers in the barn and listen to their stories about panthers, about trying to scale the Pinnacles, and about what were, to him, far away places like Washington, D.C

KELLY: In addition to the beauty and challenge of the Dan River Gorge, one of the other things AT hikers missed out on when the trail moved away was the Old Fiddler’s Convention in downtown Galax. 

FIDDLERS CONVENTION: Now Judges, number 12 brings us the Brushy River Boys from here in Galax headed up by Roscoe Russel. Roscoe, I think you said yous said yous gonna do “Leather Britches,” is that the one?

KELLY: The convention began in 1935 and is the oldest continuously operating fiddler’s convention in the world. And, of course, they missed out on a chance to cross the New River in “Redbird.”

KELLY: As Sally Rakes remembers…

RAKES: People would walk up the trail and they could not get across the river. And they sometimes would holler across the river “Hey, can you set me across the river?” So if daddy was there, he would go get them and bring them across the river. And then sometimes my mother did that, poled the boat across the river and pick somebody up. But anyway, they would a lot of times would come. And then they would stand and talk a while and rest a while before they started on. 

KELLY: When Benton MacKaye first proposed the AT in 1921, one of his primary goals was to spur economic development in small towns in Appalachia. One of those towns, Fries, Virginia, is just upstream from the spot where Sally Rakes’s parents put hikers across the New River in “Redbird.”

KELLY:  I interviewed Richard Farmer, the mayor of Fries, in 2019. He grew up there when the mill was still humming and told me all about what it was like to grow up in a mill town. The mill closed in 1989 and the town has slowly declined as more and more people have moved away looking for work. If the Appalachian Trail still crossed the river just downstream from town, things would look a lot different in Fries these days. I didn’t record that interview, but here’s what he had to say.

RICHARD FARMER (voice actor LINCOLN MULLEN): We haven’t rebounded since the mill closed. There’s just been nothing to take its place. We’re trying to build up tourism

KELLY: Because there’s so little work, most of the folks still living in Fries drive to a job somewhere else.

FARMER: They go to Galax to work in the furniture mill or at the mirror plant. Or they do service work there, restaurants, stores, and such. Some go up to the Radford Arsenal, or White Trucks in Dublin. Some go to Independence, the county seat.

KELLY: Despite the challenges his community faces, Farmer wouldn’t live anywhere else.

FARMER: We live in this beautiful place with these beautiful views. But we just need a break.

KELLY: When you speak with people along the old route of the AT in Southwestern Virginia, people like Mayor Farmer, you realize just how much the Appalachian Trail meant to them and their neighbors. It’s not as though they aren’t connected with the world around them, because they are. 

KELLY: But if the trail still came through their region, they would have a chance to meet thousands of happy, smelly, and scruffy hikers. Hikers who would have spent money in local stores, maybe stayed in a hotel or a hostel, and who would have brought with them their life experiences from around the world. 

KELLY: And those hikers would have gained just as much from meeting the people who live in Fries, or Galax, or Meadows of Dan, or Floyd, or Bent Mountain. They would have learned about the mountain music that you hear in our shows. They would have had a chance to climb the Pinnacles of Dan, to ride in a flat-bottomed boat like “Redbird,” and to look down on the New River Valley from Farmer Mountain.

KELLY: But after World War II, the leadership of the ATC, spurred on by Jim Denton of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, decided to move the trail away from these beautiful places.

CHRISTOPULOS: When they did the relocation, Jimmy Denton was president he said, most of this thing is a roadblock, it's not marked, the Blue Ridge Parkway has been built on top of it. It's a horrible trail, and he said that in the 1949 annual meeting. And by then Avery was pretty ill and didn't want to get into a big relocation so Denton told him the volunteers of our club will do it and they did they relocated 160 170 miles and about five years. And the trail that they built was pretty amateurish and pretty much all I had to be rebuilt, but I think what was important was getting the trail off the roads and more on to protected land that was protected by the forest service that could gradually become the trial that we have today. 

KELLY: Who, exactly, was the AT was intended for? In 1949, the leadership of the ATC decided the trail was for hikers, not for local communities badly in need of the economic benefits the trail brought. Since there weren’t any organized trail clubs between Roanoke and Damascus, that decision wasn’t hard fought. Only John Barnard at the Dan River Gorge, along with a few other scattered volunteers here and there, protested the ATC’s decision. 

KELLY: Had there been a club or clubs to take better care of the trail – and later to defend it from a relocation – it’s possible the ATC might have made a different call. Instead, they chose to move the trail 50 miles to the west.

KELLY: By the 1950s, vacation homes were springing up in the mountains, ski areas were encroaching on the old trail, and timber companies were logging off large stretches of the mountains, sometimes obliterating the trail as they did. The new route Jim Denton scouted was in the newly formed Jefferson National Forest and would be protected on federal land. Really, from the perspective of ATC headquarters, the decision was a no brainer.

KELLY: When the ATC pulled the trail away, knowledge of the old route quickly passed out of the AT community's memory. New trail guides appeared that made no mention of the lost Appalachian Trail. And histories of the trail all but ignored the fact that for its first two decades, 300 miles of the trail passed through a region now all but invisible to AT hikers.

KELLY: But the trail left many traces on the landscape of this region, some of which are still easily read today for those who know to look. The Galax chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is the “Appalachian Trail” chapter, although the current local DAR leaders aren’t quite sure why. Several roads still bear the name “Appalachian Trail.” And if you know where to look you can find rusty old AT markers on trees, likely put there by Shirley Cole, John Barnard, and Myron Avery in the early 1930s. 

KELLY: In a part of America where the past really matters, the Appalachian Trail lives on. It is inscribed on the inner landscapes of the people who still remember and are determined not to forget.

KELLY: In this Appalachian heartland, people’s lives are organized around stories of the past. That past is woven into their present and their future. Memories of the Appalachian Trail and its history remain an important way that they make sense of their world. They wish other people remembered it the way they do.

KELLY: But in the end, all that really matters is that they remember the old trail.

KELLY: If you enjoyed this episode, I have a new book out called Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail where I dive even deeper into the history of this all but forgotten section of the trail. And for a limited time, Green Tunnel listeners can get the book at 30% off. Head to Arcadia Publishing dot com and use code TUNNEL23. If you’d like to save even more, enter our Instagram contest! Just follow @GreenTunnelPod on Instagram and be on the lookout for our giveaway post. 

KELLY: The Green Tunnel is a production of R2 Studios at George Mason University. Today’s episode was produced by me. Jeanette Patrick and Jim Ambuske are our Executive Producers. 

KELLY: A special thank you to Ralph Lee Barnard, Sally Dixon Rakes, Richard Farmer, Dorothy Shifflett, and Doug Bell for sharing their memories of the old trail with me. And a big thank you to Diana Christopulos, who is the real expert on every aspect of the history of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. Alison Langford read Dorothy Shifflett’s quotation, Lincoln Mullen read Richard Farmer’s, and Jim Ambuske read Robert Brown. 

KELLY: The archival music you heard earlier was “Leather Britches” by the Brushy River Boys. Thanks to the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways Recording Collection for allowing us to feature this song, which was recorded at the 1964 Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Virginia. You’ll find a link to the full album in our show notes. 

KELLY: Our original music is performed by Scott Miller of Swope, Virginia and Andrew Small and Ashley Watkins of Floyd, Virginia. 

KELLY: Be sure to rate and review The Green Tunnel on Apple, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. At R2 Studios we’re on a mission to democratize history through podcasting, and we invite you to join us. So, head to R2Studios.org and click on  “Support Us” to help us make the best history podcasts out there. 

KELLY: Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see back here you soon. 

Diana Christopulos

Diana is the current archivist and former president of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. She is also currently a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s President Leadership Council. She hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from 1999-2008 as a section hiker and over the past few years has been very involved in environmental preservation work in the mountains traversed by the AT.

Doug Bell

Doug Bell lives with his wife Arlene in Copper Hill, Virginia, about halfway between the towns of Bent Mountain and Check in Floyd County Virginia. The AT at one time passed through his grandfather's front yard.

Sally Dixon Rakes

Sally Dixon Rakes grew up on the east shore of the New River just downstream from Fries Virginia. Her family operated the ferry which helped AT hikers across the New River for generations.

Ralph Barnard

Ralph is the grandson of John Barnard who maintained the section of the old trail that ran through the Dan River Gorge.