The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announced the publication of We Were There, Too, the story of the often-overlooked pioneering corps of women who directly contributed to the construction and protection of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Written by Gwenyth L. Loose, this illuminating book covers ten decades of dedicated women who stood and worked alongside planner Benton MacKaye, volunteer leader Myron Avery and others as essential contributors to the A.T. as it became an international recreation and conservation icon. We Were There, Too can be preordered through Mountaineers Books and will be available after December 1 at all major bookselling and outdoor-retail outlets.
The book, which highlights the prevalence of women leaders in the creation and management of the A.T. and the ATC, focuses primarily on three key exemplars: Jean Stephenson (1892-1979), Ruth Blackburn (1908-2004), and Margaret Drummond (1922-2015). The latter two were chairs of the Conservancy (then named the Appalachian Trail Conference) during crucial years of its development.
Stephenson worked side-by-side with Myron Avery in two organizations during the 1930s and 40s, helping with efforts including trail-building, organizing support, and developing and sharing information throughout the A.T. ecosystem up until Avery’s sudden death in 1952. She also was the founding, 25-year editor of the Appalachian Trailway News and editor of the first two generations of A.T. guidebooks.
Blackburn chaired the ATC from 1980 to 1983. She is best remembered for decades of painstaking research into land ownership along the route of the Trail, preparing for an unprecedented program of federal land acquisition to protect the footpath under the 1968 National Trails System Act.
Dr. Drummond was the chair of the ATC from 1989 to 1995, developing closer ties between the national organization and its 31 affiliated local clubs of volunteers who undertake the primary work of maintaining the footpath and its shelters. She was tenacious in her encouragement of those clubs to take their trail-building skills to the highest professional levels.
Author Gwenyth L. Loose, a lifelong hiker, has served for more than two decades as a widely respected leader in the field of rail-trail development. She earned a master’s degree in American Studies at Pennsylvania State University and received certification from the National Recreation & Park Association as a park and recreation professional. She currently serves as vice president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society and curator of the museum’s exhibits.
You can pre-order your copy of We Were There, Too today by visiting https://www.mountaineers.org/books/books/we-were-there-too-pioneering-appalachian-trail-women.