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A Path Made of Words: The Journalistic Construction of the Appalachian Trail
Unformatted Document Text:  10 | P a g e River, and the picturesque Hudson Highlands were accessible by train. In 1909, the New York Times ran a series of sixteen articles titled “Pleasant Walks in and Near the City,” with maps for day trips. 30 By 1920, about seventy-five hiking clubs were afoot in the New York area. The oldest of them were men’s athletic organizations that stressed “speed hiking,” but there also were clubs for professional women, religious organizations and ethnic groups. Greenwich Village had the All-Tramp Soviet, a hiking club for communists. 31 The acolyte of this social movement was Raymond Torrey (1880-1938). A rumpled-looking man with the blocky features of a prizefighter, Torrey was the son of a Massachusetts sea captain. He had been a New York newspaperman since 1903, serving as night city editor for both the American and the Tribune. In the early 1920s he conducted a weekly page of outdoor news for the New York Evening Post. Torrey was an active tramper himself. His interests were eclectic and intense. A self-taught botanist, he became an expert on lichens, amassing a private herbarium at his home in Queens. 32 He also had superb personal and organizational skills. Decades after his death, two chroniclers of the East Coast hiking scene remembered him as the “most potent unifying force of all … supreme ombudsman in the boiling consortium of New York hiking clubs, universally known and liked.” 33 Torrey presided over a teeming local hiking culture. Each Sunday morning from spring through fall, hundreds of New Yorkers ferried across the Hudson River to catch the trains into the countryside. Many rode the Erie Railroad’s 7:30 a.m. train to Bear Mountain, near West Point. The railroad offered weekend rates for trampers, and the conductors even arranged for unscheduled stops at trailheads along the way. Torrey was a regular on the Erie train, strolling the aisles to rally the troops. He dispensed advice, shared jokes and collected tidbits for his columns. 34 He marveled that so much spectacular scenery lay near the city: “[O]ne can spend

Authors: Kates, James.
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10 | 
P a g e
River, and the picturesque Hudson Highlands were accessible by train. In 1909, the New York 
Times ran a series of sixteen articles titled “Pleasant Walks in and Near the City,” with maps for 
day trips.
 By 1920, about seventy-five hiking clubs were afoot in the New York area. The 
oldest of them were men’s athletic organizations that stressed “speed hiking,” but there also were 
clubs for professional women, religious organizations and ethnic groups. Greenwich Village had 
the All-Tramp Soviet, a hiking club for communists.
     The acolyte of this social movement was Raymond Torrey (1880-1938). A rumpled-looking 
man with the blocky features of a prizefighter, Torrey was the son of a Massachusetts sea 
captain. He had been a New York newspaperman since 1903, serving as night city editor for both 
the American and the Tribune. In the early 1920s he conducted a weekly page of outdoor news 
for the New York Evening Post. Torrey was an active tramper himself. His interests were eclectic 
and intense. A self-taught botanist, he became an expert on lichens, amassing a private 
herbarium at his home in Queens.
 He also had superb personal and organizational skills. 
Decades after his death, two chroniclers of the East Coast hiking scene remembered him as the 
“most potent unifying force of all … supreme ombudsman in the boiling consortium of New 
York hiking clubs, universally known and liked.”
     Torrey presided over a teeming local hiking culture. Each Sunday morning from spring 
through fall, hundreds of New Yorkers ferried across the Hudson River to catch the trains into 
the countryside. Many rode the Erie Railroad’s 7:30 a.m. train to Bear Mountain, near West 
Point. The railroad offered weekend rates for trampers, and the conductors even arranged for 
unscheduled stops at trailheads along the way. Torrey was a regular on the Erie train, strolling 
the aisles to rally the troops. He dispensed advice, shared jokes and collected tidbits for his 
columns.
 He marveled that so much spectacular scenery lay near the city: “[O]ne can spend 


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