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A Path Made of Words: The Journalistic Construction of the Appalachian Trail
Unformatted Document Text:  21 | P a g e The Commander: Myron Avery In 1927, Raymond Torrey noted a “revival of interest” in the Appalachian Trail, but the New York Times was skeptical. The trail was still “more a dream than a reality,” and it might not be finished for a generation, the paper opined. 71 The AT effort needed a swift kick, and it soon got it. If MacKaye was the Appalachian Trail’s architect and Torrey its publicist, its ultimate builder was a Washington attorney named Myron Avery. A decorated Navy veteran, admiralty lawyer and born leader, Avery helped found the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in 1927. Its stated objective was to build the trail from the Pennsylvania-Maryland line to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, a distance of about 225 miles. Two-thirds of that work was completed by the end of 1930, and Avery set his sights higher. Through sheer force of will, he built the club into the effective center of the AT organization and became chairman of the Appalachian Trail Conference at age thirty-one. Under his command, no detail was overlooked. He developed standards for trail clearing, grading and signage. By the time the trail was finished, Avery had walked the entire route. He could dictate twenty letters at a sitting (this after working all day as a government lawyer), and he wrote more than one hundred articles about the Appalachian Trail for popular and specialized publications. His example attracted legions of volunteers. During one weekend work party, Avery slashed through sixteen miles of brush in Maryland, with exhausted helpers stumbling in his wake. Especially when people crossed him, he could be brusque and abrasive. “Myron left two trails from Maine to Georgia,” an observer noted. “One was of hurt feelings and bruised egos.” The other, of course, was the Appalachian Trail itself. 72

Authors: Kates, James.
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21 | 
P a g e
The Commander: Myron Avery
     In 1927, Raymond Torrey noted a “revival of interest” in the Appalachian Trail, but the New 
York Times was skeptical. The trail was still “more a dream than a reality,” and it might not be 
finished for a generation, the paper opined.
 The AT effort needed a swift kick, and it soon got 
it. If MacKaye was the Appalachian Trail’s architect and Torrey its publicist, its ultimate builder 
was a Washington attorney named Myron Avery. A decorated Navy veteran, admiralty lawyer 
and born leader, Avery helped found the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in 1927. Its stated 
objective was to build the trail from the Pennsylvania-Maryland line to Shenandoah National 
Park in Virginia, a distance of about 225 miles. Two-thirds of that work was completed by the 
end of 1930, and Avery set his sights higher. Through sheer force of will, he built the club into 
the effective center of the AT organization and became chairman of the Appalachian Trail 
Conference at age thirty-one.
     Under his command, no detail was overlooked. He developed standards for trail clearing, 
grading and signage. By the time the trail was finished, Avery had walked the entire route. He 
could dictate twenty letters at a sitting (this after working all day as a government lawyer), and 
he wrote more than one hundred articles about the Appalachian Trail for popular and specialized 
publications. His example attracted legions of volunteers. During one weekend work party, 
Avery slashed through sixteen miles of brush in Maryland, with exhausted helpers stumbling in 
his wake. Especially when people crossed him, he could be brusque and abrasive. “Myron left 
two trails from Maine to Georgia,” an observer noted. “One was of hurt feelings and bruised 
egos.” The other, of course, was the Appalachian Trail itself.


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