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A Path Made of Words: The Journalistic Construction of the Appalachian Trail
Unformatted Document Text:  25 | P a g e completed,” because it had to be constantly improved, maintained and protected from encroachment. 89 His words proved prophetic. A year later, a massive hurricane blew through New England and blocked long sections of the trail. Construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia forced the relocation of another stretch, and that work was postponed by U.S. entry into World War II. The Appalachian Trail would not be fully walkable again until 1951. 90 Raymond Torrey died of a heart attack on his fifty-eighth birthday, July 15, 1938. As a journalist and conservationist, “he strove to protect the natural beauty of the country against the inroads of industry and commerce,” read his obituary in the New York Times. 91 In a letter to a colleague, MacKaye remembered “our old friend and trail mate”: The name “Torrey” means to me something part man, part mountain; it stands for things human – and geologically eternal. … Torrey I look on as one of the fathers of the Appalachian Trail. 92 On October 30 of that year, New York’s hiking community had a Sunday outing in Torrey’s honor. Once more, the crowds rode the ferry across the Hudson River and caught the train for Bear Mountain. After hiking to the top of nearby Long Mountain, Torrey’s followers scattered his ashes to the wind. 93 The spectrum of thought underlying MacKaye’s actions had shifted markedly since the 1920s. MacKaye was deeply influenced by the writings of Robert Marshall and Aldo Leopold, both of whom melded science and ethics to create a new calculus regarding human beings’ relationship with nature. MacKaye would join them and others to found the Wilderness Society in 1935. By that point, the intellectual energy behind the wilderness movement had been brewing for several years: “The rhetoric of political and social reform that had characterized MacKaye’s 1921 trail proposal had now evolved into a more oracular, almost pantheistic, vocabulary of self-realization through direct contact with nature.” 94

Authors: Kates, James.
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25 | 
P a g e
completed,” because it had to be constantly improved, maintained and protected from 
encroachment.
 His words proved prophetic. A year later, a massive hurricane blew through 
New England and blocked long sections of the trail. Construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway in 
Virginia forced the relocation of another stretch, and that work was postponed by U.S. entry into 
World War II. The Appalachian Trail would not be fully walkable again until 1951.
     Raymond Torrey died of a heart attack on his fifty-eighth birthday, July 15, 1938. As a 
journalist and conservationist, “he strove to protect the natural beauty of the country against the 
inroads of industry and commerce,” read his obituary in the New York Times.
 In a letter to a 
colleague, MacKaye remembered “our old friend and trail mate”:
The name “Torrey” means to me something part man, part mountain; it stands for 
things human – and geologically eternal. … Torrey I look on as one of the fathers 
of the Appalachian Trail.
     On October 30 of that year, New York’s hiking community had a Sunday outing in Torrey’s 
honor. Once more, the crowds rode the ferry across the Hudson River and caught the train for 
Bear Mountain. After hiking to the top of nearby Long Mountain, Torrey’s followers scattered 
his ashes to the wind.
     The spectrum of thought underlying MacKaye’s actions had shifted markedly since the 1920s. 
MacKaye was deeply influenced by the writings of Robert Marshall and Aldo Leopold, both of 
whom melded science and ethics to create a new calculus regarding human beings’ relationship 
with nature. MacKaye would join them and others to found the Wilderness Society in 1935. By 
that point, the intellectual energy behind the wilderness movement had been brewing for several 
years: “The rhetoric of political and social reform that had characterized MacKaye’s 1921 trail 
proposal had now evolved into a more oracular, almost pantheistic, vocabulary of self-realization 
through direct contact with nature.”


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