Don't know if any of you have heard about this or not, but a new Appalachian Trail Museum will be opening next year, on National Trails Day, June 5, 2010. It will be located in a 200-year-old grist mill at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, roughly the mid-point along the 2175-mile, Maine-to-Georgia trail.
One of the really cool things about the new museum is that thru-hikers will become living history "interpreters". The museum will feature a "hikers' center," a lounge area of sorts, designed to promote interaction between visitors and hikers who stop in for breaks as they pass through the park.
The museum will also feature a hikers shelter built by Earl Shaffer, the first person to walk the entire trail in one season in 1948. The shelter, which stood atop Peters Mountain in Dauphin County, was painstakingly dismantled in order to to preserve it for the museum.
The museum will also have plenty of standard museum fare: artifacts and archives of Appalachian Trail records and photos. Other attractions will include a children's discovery area, where kids can play with camping equipment.
There will also be a video wall that will display the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's archive of more than 12,000 photographs of hikers taken as they passed through the trail's headquarters in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Those photos will also will be available on the museum website.
Speaking of the website, it looks like you'll be able to spend many days surfing the site once it's complete. The site is in the process of collecting the best short stories from the trail. The site has categorized the stories into areas of interest such as; origins of trail names, shelter life, unexplained happenings, trail magic, weather stories, ranger encounters and many others.
To build an Appalachian Trail historical timeline, the site is also in the process of assembling trail journals that are categorized by year going back to 1927.
The grist mill building, which is just a few steps off the trail, is within two miles of the Appalachian Trail's midpoint. The building is next to the Pine Grove General Store, home of the Half Gallon Club, a favorite stop for long-distance hikers where they try to eat an entire half gallon of ice cream in a single sitting.
You can visit the museum's website by clicking here.
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