On this special episode of The Green Tunnel, Dakota Jackson, Director of Visitor Experience at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, talks with Mills Kelly about his new book, Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail.
On this special episode of The Green Tunnel, Dakota Jackson, Director of Visitor Experience at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, talks with Mills Kelly about his new book, Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail. Dakota and Mills explore the process of digging up the story of Virginia's Lost AT in the archives, and in the memories of the people who remember it. We hope you enjoy this deeper dive into the history of the old section of the trail, and learn a little about how historians recover and interpret the past.
Don't forget to listen to "The Lost AT."
Purchase your own copy of Mills Kelly's book.
DAKOTA JACKSON: Why do you think these people wanted their connection to the AT recognized and realized?
MILLS KELLY: The Appalachian Trail is a big deal. I mean, it's an international phenomenon. It's the most iconic long-distance hiking trail in the United States, maybe in the world. I mean, it's just, it’s the one that people know. And so, it is a big deal. And in a part of Virginia, where there really aren't any big deals anymore, it's a way to, to connect to something really important and to say, you know, we're part of that story. Don't forget us.
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. In our last episode, we explored the story of the lost Appalachian Trail. The 300-mile section of trail in Virginia that you probably never heard of. That is at least until you listen to the episode. Feel free to listen to it now, if you haven't already. Normally, we'd follow an episode like the lost Appalachian Trail with an iconic location story exploring some of the AT’s most famous places. But today, you're in for a special treat. I recently had the chance to talk with Dakota Jackson, Director of Visitor Experience at the Appalachian Trail conservancy about my new book, Virginia's lost Appalachian Trail, which is available now in bookstores everywhere. You've heard a lot about the ATC on The Green Tunnel. It's the organization that works with federal, state and community partners to protect the Appalachian Trail for all to enjoy.
KELLY: Dakota is an archeologist by training. And at the ATC. She works hard to educate people about to trail to make sure that they're fully prepared when they head out for a hike. Dakota and I talked a lot about the process of digging up the story of Virginia's last at in the archives, and in the memories of the people who remember it. So, I hope you enjoy this deeper dive into the history of the old section of the trail, and learn a little about how historians recover and interpret the past.
JACKSON: First of all, I'm going to butter you up because I I loved this book so much, I think your writing style is so dynamic. And you really get the sense of all of these characters that are in this very small section of the AT, But I think very important section of the AT. What inspired you to write this book initially?
KELLY: You know, it's really funny how I got started on this book. It's and it happened just because archives are really dangerous places for historians. I was reading through correspondence in the Appalachian Trail conservancy archives, and there was a letter to Myron Avery, the legendary chairman of the ATC, from some guy in Floyd Virginia, talking about the root of the trail and Floyd and Franklin counties. And okay, I'm originally from Franklin County, but only the first five years of my life. But that's still like where I'm from, I guess and, and I thought the 80 doesn't go through Franklin County. That's just wrong. It doesn't go to Floyd. And so, I had to stop and start looking to figure out what in the world was going on. And the more I looked, the more I realized there was a huge chunk of the AT that ran in a whole different place than what I had known. But then I couldn't find out anything else in the archives. So, I thought, well, I've got a couple of days off. I'll just drive down to Floyd and see what I can find out. And I talked to somebody there. And he said, oh, well, maybe you could give a talk about the Appalachian Trail. It's a public library. And I said, well, okay, and I got there and something like 30 people showed up to talk about the Appalachian Trail in Floyd County, which it hasn't been there since 1952. And so that's I thought, wow, there's just like a lot of enthusiasm here for a thing which doesn't exist. That's what got me started.
JACKSON: That's amazing. It's sad, in a way because these people seem to care deeply about a trail that no longer exists, although there are traces of it. But then you think of outside of Damascus, Virginia. Now on the AT you have stunning scenery. What do you think was the main driving force moving the trail from Floyd County into the northern section of Virginia?
KELLY: It was practicality more than anything that caused the trail to move away from its original route in southwestern Virginia. That original route, everything east of the New River was on private land or old disused logging roads and things like that, which was pretty typical for the AT in the 1930s. And then west of the river. It was in what was the Yonaka National Forest now the Jefferson National Forest, so the western half was on protected federal land, but the eastern half wasn't, and it kept moving around because of that. You know, a landowner would say, oh, I don't want to trail on my property or whatever. And then the Blue Ridge Parkway came through and forced it to move. It was just more practical to move it to the west when the Jefferson National Forest expanded and put it on that federal land. So that was a really practical reason. And then the other problem was that they couldn't get a trail club to stick east of the New River, they would form, and they would fall apart, and they would form, and they would fall apart. And so, there was nobody there. No organization there to really advocate for keeping the trail.
JACKSON: One of my favorite parts of the book was this kind of like cast of characters who were the real like driving force of the trail going through Floyd County in the 40s. And I think so often, the history of the AT is filled with these like really like captivating quirky characters. How did you tease out the personalities of these men like Roy Ozmer? And surely call in the book? Was it all archives? Or was it more talking to the people in the areas that you were going through?
KELLY: Great question, because these are pretty obscure people in a way and Ozmer was a little easier to find in the archives, because he was so involved with the Appalachian Trail in his early days, you know, he scouted the original route in Georgia for the ATC and was pretty close to Myron Avery. And he was totally quirky. I mean, he ended up becoming a famous hermit in Florida in the 1960s and 1970s. And so, he's in the Florida Memory Project website. So, he was a little easier to find. But Shirley Cole was the guy who proposed the root east of the New River was completely obscure. But the more I looked, the more I found him in newspaper stories from the region and few other archives, he shows up. But then ancestry.com was my friend, because I just posted a notice in ancestry looking for him and in a family tree, and I got somebody who said, oh, he was my great uncle, and his daughter is still alive. Let me put you in touch with her. And that's Dorothy Shifflett, who I interview for the book. And Dorothy was 101 when I talked to her. And I never met her, because we were just talking on the phone. But she was so fascinating, so proud of her father's contribution to the AT.
JACKSON: I think you said it in the book that these memories, and these stories are only as good as the people who remember them. And I think it's something that I'm always conscious of, and it's always nagging me in the back of my head is like, oh, my God, time is running out to preserve these stories and talk to these people and actually find them. What are your thoughts on how communities along the AT whether former or current can preserve their history?
KELLY: It's really important, I think, because the trail is so rooted in these rural communities before the trail clubs got so organized. And before the ATC became such a big operation. It was really people in the local communities who made the Appalachian Trail happen as a thing, but also who really took care of the hikers. I just read the other day, an account by somebody who hiked the stretch from Harpers Ferry to Skyland in the Shenandoah National Park in the 1930s. And he and his hiking partner got stuck in a rainstorm. It was icing a little bit kind of like today. And they came to a gas station along the trail. And the owner just said, oh, we'll just go down to my house and you know, bunk up there and come down when I get off work. And this guy was just amazed that this man who worked in a gas station in rural Virginia would just say go to my house. But that's the way it was along the AT in the old days. And, and to some degree, it still is. I think it's really critical that local historical societies, but also the trail clubs and the ATC, talk to the old folks along the trail and get those memories before they disappear.
JACKSON: Every time I'm in the visitor center in Harpers Ferry, as I am now, I constantly encounter these snippets of stories that I wish I just had a microphone constantly. I'm like, can you like write that down in a book and then send it to us please? Like I need you to really remember what it was like hiking in the 1980s, what it was like hiking the 1940s. So, I think it's a really important piece of how we preserve the AT. Speaking of just how important the AT is to these rural communities, it was striking kind of the contrast between where the old AT was in southwestern Virginia versus where the AT is today and how you see these kind of rural communities really focusing around the economies of the AT. What do you think these rural communities can bring to outsiders like hikers who are kind of stepping foot into them for the first time when they step off the AT?
KELLY: It's so important, I think, for hikers to spend time with the people in these communities because first of all, we have so many stereotypes about hillbillies or you know mountain people or rural people in general and you know, so many that at hikers are not from small rural communities there mostly from big cities, suburbs, or from other countries, you know, and so they, they just don't have a sense for what folks in rural communities are like. I think there's a tremendous cultural exchange that happens. And it's it's not just that the people in the rural communities, you know, get to meet somebody from Australia or from Boston, but it's the people from Australia and Boston get to meet people in the rural communities and realize that A we're all humans and B, we're all connected through the Appalachian Trail and the experience of either hiking or helping hikers or feeding hikers, or whatever it might be, at a time when we're so pulled apart by politics and everything else. Having the opportunity to just sit down and talk to somebody for a half an hour and find out more about what their lives are like, I think it's just so important. And hikers have that opportunity. You know, they come off the trail, and they're tired and they're hungry, and they can sit outside the store and chat with, you know, the two old guys sitting outside the store too. And I know what's going on. And that's a thing that that we don't focus on much when we focus on the history of the Appalachian Trail. And and I think it is this tremendous contribution that the trail makes.
JACKSON: You don’t necessarily think of on a day-to-day basis of Oh, their livelihoods that depend on the AT and their livelihoods that depend on these hikers who are maybe spending only a couple of months out there. But it's day to day, it's year to year for the communities that actually live along the trail. And they have a very deep sense of the land and the history of the land there as well.
KELLY: You know, I quote in the book from Richard Farmer who was in, I think, still is the mayor of Fries, Virginia, you know, which is was a mill town now, it's just a town without a mill. It's completely scraped off, except for the powerhouse, which is Swedish company, I guess owns it now. But if you could listen to Richard Farmer, talk about this place where he's from any you know, he grew up and, you know, went away. And then he came back after he retired and became the mayor. And just a sort of lyrical way, he describes the beauty of that big bend in the river, and the way the sunlight sort of dapples off the river in the afternoon, and you would realize that connection to place that you're talking about is just so so much a part of the lives of these folks. And then for hikers, the trail becomes sort of embedded in their lives. Also, that landscape just really kind of takes over.
JACKSON: Getting back to the characters, who is your favorite person to interview over the course of the book?
KELLY: That's easy. Ralph Bernard is just the greatest guy. Ralph is in his early to mid 80s these days. And it's really funny, because when I was trying to find him, because I had somebody who said, Oh, you know, John Barnard, who used to run the trail, and the Dan River Gorge, his grandson’s still alive, he's, you know, you could talk to Ralph, but, but I gotta warn you, you know, rouse kind of crusty, and you know, he could be a little standoffish, and all that. People seem to like intimidated by Ralph, and I don't get it. He's the nicest person ever. And his lovely wife, Hope is just so sweet. And they welcomed me into their home, the very first time I came, and Ralph and I sat on the front porch of his grandfather's home. And like, when you look at some of the pictures in the book, it's that same house, and we just sat on the front porch, and it was raining a little. And he's just started telling me all these stories about the trail and about growing up on Squirrel Spur Road and meadows of Dan Virginia. And, and then, you know, I came back a second time and he drove me all over the Kibler valley there and the Dan River Gorge and told me all the stories of his family who settled there after the Revolutionary War, and you know, all of that and, and he just has such a wonderful sense of humor. And he's like one of my friends now. And it's the kind of thing you don't expect to happen as a historian that you're going to become really good friends with somebody who you just kind of wanted to talk to you a little bit. And I just got a Christmas card from Ralph and Hope yesterday. So, they're like, we built this really great connection. So yeah, he's, he's my favorite.
JACKSON: I very much enjoyed reading about him and his father, so great. So, this is one kind of lost or ghost section of the AT. Are there any others along the trail that really speak out to you or ones that you would like to explore in the future?
KELLY: Well, I definitely want to start where the southern terminus was on Mount Oglethorpe and hiked that 35 or 38 miles up to Springer Mountain, just because the accounts of that hike from the Oglethorpe monument, which is now down in Jasper down down the side of the mountain and then across the valley and up to Springer. Those accounts are so kind of lurid in the sense that basically you just walk through chicken farms, and hikers would complain about the smell and the goo. I mean, chicken farms are, I have to say, one of the nastier kinds of agricultural production in the United States. I just kind of want to see is it still like that, or is it now like all, you know, fancy vacation homes or something like that, so I definitely want to do that. And then recently this summer actually, I hiked a lot of the ghost sections in Shenandoah National Park by looking at old trail maps and figuring out which route the trail used to take in the park. And that was kind of fun because those are all still well-maintained trails, they're just not marked as former Appalachian Trail. You have to like go back and look at old maps to figure that out. But most of the other routes are pretty small. Like if you wanted to hike the section that became the roller coaster you just have to go get on the road that goes up over Mount Whether just walk along the road and that strikes me as kind of boring.
JACKSON: I would love to do that Oglethorpe to Springer section that sounds like hiker hazing at its finest. Getting back to kind of process. How much time did you really spend doing on the ground research vs. archival research?
KELLY: I exhausted the archives pretty quickly because there are really only four archives that had anything to say about this section of the trail. There was the ATC archives, the Potomac Appalachian Trail archives, because those two organizations were pretty intermingled in the 1930s and 1940s. And so, the archives are also kind of intermingled, and then the Roanoke ATC and the Natural Bridge, ATC. in Lynchburg. The natural bridge club archives had only a couple of things that were on a Club's archives had a fair amount, because they had a lot of responsibility for that section of the trail. But I exhausted those archives pretty quickly. And so really, really, I had to go spend a lot of time driving around or being driven around by other people, whether it was Ralph, or a guy named Jim McNeely, who very generously drove me all over the eastern route of the trail. I also went to the Floyd County Public Library and looked at their newspaper files and Carroll County Historical Society. And but then mostly, I just drove around to talk to people. Doug Bell, who's one of the characters in the book, you know, I visited with Doug and Arlene, I guess, three times now and the Dixon family that ran Dixon Ferry, Paula Dixon rakes, she just has like, invited me into their family. And I have been to their family reunion, I guess the summer of 2021. I like went to the barbecue down on the New River with the family where the old fairy used to come across. And I got more stories that way. You know, it's a part of the world where you have to sit and talk.
JACKSON: I was going to ask you if there was any initial awkwardness with any of your interviews, but I think I have my answer of you being invited to family reunions.
KELLY: I had an advantage; I had an advantage. And that is that I'm originally from Franklin County, we moved away when I was five. So I don't think of myself as from there. But when you meet people in a lot of rural places in particular, and they'll ask, so where are you from? And so I would say well, you know, I'm originally from Franklin County, but we moved to Northern Virginia when I was a small child. Oh, you're from here? I see. Well, not you know, not really well, you know, you're from here. I mean different, Franklin. So I was local in that sense. And so that gave me a little bit of an easier in with folks. But but I didn't really need one. I mean, these are people who really welcomed me.
JACKSON: Yeah. And they seem to really want you to tell their story, which I think is huge.
KELLY: Another part is that I think the people I've spoken with also want to just talk about their lives and about their place where they live in the landscape that they grew up in and how beautiful it is. And they just want other people to know that when I talked to Richard Farmer, it was at a time when Northern Virginia was trying really hard to get Amazon's HQ 2 to move to Northern Virginia. And he said at one point, you know, I feel like you know, maybe the folks in Richmond are so focused on things like Amazon, that that they’ve forgotten about us. And I really hope they haven't been connected to the story of the Appalachian Trail is a way of making sure that they aren't forgotten.
JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. That was the most striking thing of if it weren't for you, and people continuing to share these stories, we would never know that they are part of the AT history and the AT story. And so I think it's so important to continue to have these conversations and continue to write books about these little pockets of AT history.
KELLY: And it can I just want to say one of the things about Yeah, because and I point this out in the book that basically when the trail moved in 1952 then this whole stretch of the trail vanished. Because not only did they pull down the 10 markers that were on the trees and bright new trail guides to say, don't go there go here because they didn't want people then to take the the old route because it wasn't the route anymore. You know, the main way that hikers learn about the trail is through trail guides. And now they learned through social media and stuff like that, but in the you know, in the 50s 60s and 70s it was the trail guides were the main source of information about the trail, and so when the old route got written out of those trees No guides, it became invisible. And it wasn't invisible to the people who still lived along the old route, but it was invisible to the to the average hiker. And it was almost impossible for them to know more about it. The most recent histories of the at barely mentioned it, that section, Tom Johnson's book has like a page and a half or something like that, other more recent histories of the trail, it's just not there. You know, we have to save these things. And we have to make sure that people know about them.
JACKSON: I have an archaeology background. And so, I always use like stratigraphy and kind of like the layers of history as a metaphor. And more often than not, since there is such a depth of history and things don't cover on the AT. We have kind of that surface scratching and that surveying of the landscape. But once you dig a little deeper, you realize that there are like 1000s of threads that kind of branch off in every direction. You have Oglethorpe, which used to be part of the AT? What's the history around that area? What's the history around southwest Virginia? I mean, that's why I'm excited that the archives at ATC are kind of finally getting dug into because who knows how many more stories are going to be uncovered with them.
KELLY: There are literally hundreds of stories in those archives, hundreds.
JACKSON: So what are some of the physical remnants that you find on the old AT
KELLY: part of the old AT still exists on the west side of the New River in the Jefferson National Forest. If you hiked the Iron Mountain Trail, that's the old Appalachian Trail. And that's actually a great hike. I've done sections of it. It is a trail, I'll say it's a trail that you share with horseback riders, and in a few spots, mountain bikers, so it's, you know, for AT, hikers who are used to just like it's just us on the trail. This is a little different trail, but it is the old Appalachian Trail and there are places if you're hiking on the AT, sort of north of the Grayson Highlands, whenever you cross the Iron Mountain Trail, you're crossing the original route of the AT. But that that trail is well maintained and well mapped. And so, it's very doable. On the east side of the river, it's a lot harder, because that was a section of trail that was mostly on old roadbeds. And you know, many of them abandoned forest roads and things like that. So, you kind of have to have one of the old trail guides except in a couple of spots. But just north of there along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you go to the saddle turnout, and you park in a parking lot. And you look to the right, you'll see a trail going off up into the trees. And if you take that trail, which is the old Appalachian Trail, then you go about, I don't know, quarter mile half a mile to the summit, and it's that much of a climb, and there's a shelter there built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s for the Appalachian Trail. It's the only shelter that was built for this 300-mile section. They had big plans. But this is the only one they actually built. Earl Shaffer in his book about his thru hike, he talks about spending the night there. And it is a beautiful spot. It's one of the you know, it's a CCC thing. You know, it's all stone with the cement floor. And so, if you want to hike on the old Appalachian Trail, that's the easiest way to do it. The view from there is really beautiful. And but it kind of typical 1930s style the shelter, like if you walk out of the shelter and you go more than 10 feet, then you go about 500 more feet really fast. Because it's like right on the edge. Today, the National Park Service would be like, no, that shelters gotta be 50 yards back from the cliff, you know? I mean, it's like 10 or 12 feet.
JACKSON: What is safety? You know, we all have headlamps now.
KELLY: Yeah but, I could just imagine some, some hiker in the middle of the night who's gotta pee, and they get up and they stagger out of the shelter. And then the last thing you hear is ahhhhh!
JACKSON: Such a recipe for disaster. So, what is this book's relationship to the podcast, The Green Tunnel?
KELLY: Well, so we do have an episode about lost Appalachian Trail where we talk a little bit about some of the things raised in the book and have some interview clips with a few of the people who are highlighted in the book. But at the same time, I think there's kind of a deeper relationship. And that is if you if you listen to the podcast, you know, we talk a lot about the connections between people in the landscape and between hikers and communities. This summer, we had an episode produced by one of our fabulous undergraduate students about off trail eating, and you know, and so we interviewed like the owner of the Smoky Mountain diner and people from the lake shore house in Monson. And if you listen to that episode, you realize it's really about community. You know, we talk a lot about the trail community. But often when people think about the trail community, they think about the community of hikers, or the community of hikers, plus the trail clubs, and sometimes they forget that the trail community encompasses every single one of these small communities along the trail. The research that I did on this book really helped to inform my thinking about that much bigger trail community, and then that shows up in the podcast.
JACKSON: Yeah, absolutely. What do you think is in terms of landscape, the thing that is lost on the current AT?
KELLY: So, there are a few spots on the old AT that are truly amazing. And hikers have completely missed out on one of those is just walking along the escarpment that is the edge of the Great Plateau of southwestern Virginia. And it's just view after view after view over the Piedmont below. And it's really dramatic because that that escarpment drops away fast. It's not a cliff. It's a cliff and a few spots, but it drops away really fast. And so, you get a different kind of view scape than you get, you know, walking through the mountains of Pennsylvania or Maryland or New York. And then the second and the most spectacular of all is the Dan River Gorge, because the trail dropped down into this, this very narrow and steep gorge. And if you're coming from the north, you had to come down something that local folks called the Indian ladder and it was handholds cut into not a sheer cliff face, but a like a 60-degree face by Cherokee hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and then you get down to the bottom and you are in the headwaters of the Dan River with spectacular waterfalls. You cannot hike the Indian ladder anymore. That's on the property of a big private resort. Somebody got injured there a couple of years ago, and so they decided no more climbing the Indian ladder. And then you had to go up and over something called the pinnacles of Dan, I have no idea why it's plural because there's only one. But the Pinnacles of Dan is it's like a pyramid shaped mountain that looks like it just got dropped into this gorge. And from the bottom to the top is an 1800-foot climb, and then an 1800-foot climb back down the other side, hikers who did the whole trail before the before it moved away. So that that was the second most difficult part of the entire trail other than you know, Mahoosuc Notch, so there was this extreme level of difficulty in this really unique geological feature. And when you got to the top the views of the gorge below you were just amazing. And then the third is the view from farmer mountain. If you're going south right after you cross over the New River, you climb up onto farmer mountain and you get 360-degree views from the summit. You see the whole New River Valley of southwestern Virginia but also you can see off to the Holston River and which eventually you know flows down into Tennessee, and and up you can see the mountains of West Virginia and the distance, or you can see the Grayson Highlands looking back to the to the east. So, it's an amazing spot. And and of course, you can hike you can climb Farmer Mountain now there's still a nice trail that goes up there, not especially well maintained. But you know it's there.
JACKSON: I guess the pinnacles of Dan is a bit tricky, right? Because you have to you have . . .
KELLY: You have to get permission, because the land is under the control of power company. It was the city of Danville Power Company, and now they've sold that concession to somebody else, but and they will give you that permission. But you just have to ask. I talked to a couple of people who have hiked it, and they say don't hike it by yourself. Good to know, it's a good place. It's a good place to like break an ankle.
JACKSON: Oh gosh! Maybe I'm glad that the AT has moved off of it. Because of that aspect.
KELLY: Well, there was a really well-developed trail coming coming from the from the South to the to the summit, there was a very well-developed trail that John Barnard had put in, but there was essentially no trail down the other side until the AT came there. Like I talked to Gene Espy and he described it as basically, you know, Buzz Lightyear falling with style. He didn't say that, but he said I kind of slid and skidded the whole way down. But it's my vision was like falling with style.
JACKSON: That’s quite the visual. And I mean, I think that just speaks to the broader point of what the AT brings to these communities too, is access to a world premiere trail that's well maintained that has a guidebook that's well researched, that people know what they're gonna get, and hopefully not fall with style too often. Although I know I have done that on the AT still and sometimes without style.
KELLY: Yeah, one of my favorite trail names was somebody I met was a woman who is trailing was pigpen. She got it because she was somewhere in Georgia at the beginning of her thru hike. And she slipped on a rainy day and basically rolled in the mud for a while. And when she stopped rolling, one of the other hikers with her said, Wow, you look just like Pigpen from Charlie Brown. We've all done that. Some version.
JACKSON: Exactly. Well Mills, thank you so much for answering my questions. Is there anything else you'd like us to know about the book?
KELLY: So, the book is out now and it's available on you know, all the online purchasing platforms. But the bigger thing I would like people to know is that these kinds of stories, I think really matter and they matter to the people who who’s, stories they are. And they matter to the community of hikers who love the Appalachian Trail. You know, you said like you wanted to always record people when they come to the visitor center. And I don't think that's a bad thing, like having a mic, like having a little recorder on the counter. Because just being able to capture those bits and pieces of the history, you know, it all adds up into something I think that's really important. And we don't know how it adds up until we actually start adding it. You know, I had no idea what I was going to find when I drove down to Floyd County the first time, and what I found was friends, first and foremost. And then I found people who I had tremendous respect for and beautiful places that I you know, I'd never seen, and I found this wonderful story about the lost Appalachian Trail. So, we just have to sometimes force ourselves to, you know, get off the main trail and see what's, what else is out there.
JACKSON: Thank you.
KELLY: Yep. Yeah, thank you so much, Dakota.
JACKSON: Of course, good talking to you, too.
KELLY: The green tunnel is a production of R2 Studios, the podcast division of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. In R2 Studios, we're on a mission to democratize history through podcasting, and we invite you to join us. So, head to R2 studios.org and click on Support Us to learn more about how you can help us make the best history podcasts out there. Today's episode was produced by The Green Tunnel’s executive producers, Jeanette Patrick and Jim Ambuske. Our original music is performed by Scott Miller of Swoop Virginia and Andrew Small and Ashley Watkins of Floyd Virginia. Special thanks to Dakota Jackson of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for talking with me about Virginia's lost Appalachian Trail. Be sure to rate and review the green tunnel on Apple, Stitcher or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll see you back here soon.
Dakota Jackson is the Director of Visitor Experience at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Her work focuses on creating empowering, educational, and inspiring experiences for all visitors to the Appalachian Trail and the ATC's visitor centers. In 2015, she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. Dakota has a background in museum collections management, interpretation, and archaeology.