First Feature Exhibit for Appalachian Trail Museum Ready for Reassembly

The Appalachian Trail Museum passes along this press release

First Feature Exhibit for Appalachian Trail Museum Ready for Reassembly

GARDNERS, PENNSYLVANIA – The shelter that Earl Shaffer built on Peters Mountain, north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is being prepped for display at the Appalachian Trail Museum which will open on Saturday, June 5, 2010. The museum will be housed in the renovated 200-year-old grist mill in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and will be the only museum in the United States dedicated to hiking.

“The Earl Shaffer shelter is significant because it was built by the man who, in 1948, became the first person to hike the 2,179 trail through 14 states in one trip,” said Larry Luxenberg, president and founder of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society. “A native Pennsylvanian, Earl Shaffer again hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in 1965 and again in1998 when he was 79 years old. Over the years, he built several shelters similar to the one that stood on Peters Mountain. We are working hard to capture at the Appalachian Trail Museum, Earl’s love of the Appalachian Trail, hiking, the outdoors and conservation. Through the museum, we will preserve the legacy of Earl Shaffer, Benton MacKaye, the orginator of the Appalachian Trail and Myron Avery, who is often credited with making the trail a reality, as well as the thousands of men, women and families who hike and maintain the trail.”

Shaffer’s shelter on Peters Mountain was taken down in August 2008 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Shaffer’s 1938 hike of the Appalachian Trail. Volunteers organized mostly by the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club carefully dismantled and labeled each of the shelter’s 61 logs. They were then transported to a barn where they were treated for insects before being put back together at the museum.

Luxenberg said Bruce Dunlavy of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, led the disassembly of the shelter and that he is responsible for reassembling it as the museum’s first feature artifact. Overall, exhibits are being designed by 2009 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Bonnie Ralston of New York, New York. The exhibit fabricator is Graphik Masters of York, Pennsylvania. LSC Design, also of York , provided the architectural guidance and the museum’s floor plan design. Actual renovation work on the grist mill is being done largely by volunteers under the leadership of Al Black and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s North Chapter “Yankee Clippers” crew. South Mountain Partnership and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have provided funding for an interpretative museum rail for the Shaffer Shelter. The Smithsonian Institute has loaned the Appalachian Trail Museum six panels from its 2009 Earl Shaffer Exhibit.

In addition to Shaffer, MacKaye and Avery, the museum will recognize Gene Espy who, in 1951, became the second person to hike the trail end-to-end in one trip or thru-hike the trail, Grandma Gatewood, who, in 1955 at the age of 67, became the first solo woman thru-hiker and later became the first person to hike the trail more than once, and Ed Garvey of Falls Church, Virginia, who popularized long distance backpacking in the 1970s.

Luxenberg, a 1980 thru hiker and author of Walking the Appalachian Trail, said it is significant that the museum is opening on National Trail Day, and there are number of hikes planned for the weekend of the opening. Details can be found on the museum’s website at

The museum’s Hiker Center will be a place where Appalachian Trail hikers and museum visitors can interact and where thru-hikers can register, record their progress, make notes and leave messages. Registers from the past that will be on display in the museum will provide a glimpse into everyday life on the trail. Also in the Hiker Center, there will be an ongoing slideshow presentation featuring digitized photos of Appalachian Trail hikers. Nearly 13,000 images of signed and annotated Polaroid photographs representing approximately 18,600 individuals are being incorporated into a searchable online database that will be hosted by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website (

The Appalachian Trail Museum is conveniently located near Carlisle, Gettysburg, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Visitors also will enjoy visiting the historic iron furnace of Pine Grove Furnace State Park and the Pine Grove General Store. The midway point of the Appalachian Trail is approximately two miles west of the museum in Michaux State Forest, but the trail itself is an easy walk from the museum as it weaves through Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

About the Appalachian Trail Museum Society

The Appalachian Trail Museum Society, a 501-C-3 not-for-profit organization formed in 2002, is organizing volunteers and fundraising nationwide to establish the Appalachian Trail Museum as a tribute to the thousands of men, women and families who have hiked and maintained the 2,179 mile long hiking trail that passes through 14 states from Maine to Georgia. The museum is located in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Pennsylvania, conveniently near Carlisle, Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pennslynvania. Additional information is available at

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