Monday, November 16, 2015

AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter - Volume 2, Issue 13

Volume 2, Issue 13 - November, 2015
brought to you by Joe Harold, Appalachian Trail Museum Manager

I admit that I breathe a little sigh of relief and I can feel some stress leaving my body when closing day comes.  I really love when the Museum is open and welcoming visitors, but I also feel there is a time for rest and renewal, just like the trees of the forest, who drop their colorful leaves, store their energy in their roots and sleep until Spring.  It is just nice to not have to worry about filling shifts and organizing volunteers; at least for a while.

But, there is still plenty for me to do at and for the Museum.  Not two days after our "official" closing date, Ed Riggs and I opened the Museum for our last group of the season; I am conducting a full inventory of our retail stock and will start ordering new stuff for next season; I have lots of work planned for the new on-line store on our website, and there are always things to do in the Museum, to keep it safe for the winter and have it ready for the Spring.  As the seasons turn, so does the world of the A.T. Museum

Annual Volunteer Recognition Event

Yesterday, we held our annual Volunteer Recognition Event, one of our favorite traditions at the Museum.  The day itself, was a beautiful fall day.  Clear azure sky, bright sun with a warm breeze occasionally rustling the fallen leaves around the Museum.

Refreshments in the basement
Volunteers mingle and talk
We started the event with some light snacks in the renovated basement, followed by a dedication to our new serviceberry tree that was planted in the middle of October.  We dedicated the tree to Katy Sexton, one of our most valued and dedicated volunteers, who passed away last year.  Larry said a few words about the dedication and then Jay told us a story of Katy and how she loved the serviceberry.  Georgia told us a little more about the tree and Red Wolf followed up with some interesting information.  It was a moving dedication.

Our new Serviceberry Tree
Larry Speaks
Jay shares a story of Katy
Georgia talks about the wonderful things we will see on this tree

Red Wolf speaks
Katy and Duffy

Next, we all headed to the Ironmasters Mansion to eat so much food, it was ridiculous. There was squash soup, meatballs, vegetable lasagna, pork bbq, corn pudding, baked ziti, meatloaf, salad, and more.  There were many pies and cookies for desert.  It was all very filling.

We finished up the event with our recognition part.  After talking about our milestones and accomplishments of the year, we thanks those of you that have gone that extra mile, whether you were present or not.  We also awarded our second annual President's Award to Gwen Loose and our Volunteer of the Year was Michele Burton.  

Gwen Loose - 2015 President's Award
Michele Burton - 2015 Volunteer of the Year
The museum exists because of all the volunteers.  Every minute that is donated is appreciated so much.  I thank you all for what you have given to the A.T. Museum and I hope you want to continue to serve at the Museum next season.


Museum Closes for the Season, Re-Opens for School Group from Texas

November 1st was the last day of the season for the A.T. Museum, but we weren't done welcoming visitors.  A school group from Texas made arrangements to come visit the museum on November 4th and we were able to accommodate them for the second year in a row.  
Large group from Texas hanging out in the pavilion

Ed Riggs and I set up the place and three large groups rotated through the Museum in between doing other things like play by the pavilion and take a hike from Michaux road back to the park.  Once we give the kids a couple of challenges, they seemed to get a little more out of the Museum part of the visit.  After the last group came through, I shut everything down (this time for the season) and headed out to my car.  They were still having fun down at the pavilion and had made a nice fire in our new fire ring.  

Camp fire to end the day

Camp Michaux

I'm sure most of you are aware of the amazing thing in the forest that is Camp Michaux.  This place, which are just the ruined foundations of a once great open area has a lot of history.  The area started off as a farm that supported the Iron Furnace and its workers by providing wheat and other produce.  In the early 1930s, it became a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp and these guys replanted the mountains and built Michaux Road.  

When the war started, the CCC basically ceased to exist, as now those men were needed to fight the war.  Soon that remote camp became a POW interrogation camp, where valuable information was gleaned from the prisoners before they were moved to a traditional POW camp.  

After the war the camp was turned into a Church Camp that was active from the late 40s to the early 70s.  The place was a Church Camp longer than the CCC camp and POW camp combined and lots of kids created many fond memories of the place over the years.

I have become very fascinated with this area.  We take the Road Scholar Groups through the camp and show them a few of the ruins and talk about the camps some, but I have been wanting to explore the whole place for a while now.  I did that last week.  

The steps to nowhere. They used to take group pictures here.
This is the best time to walk through the camp.  The leaves have fallen from the trees and the underbrush has died back for the winter and you can see some of the ruins a little better.

The Cumberland County Historical Society has a nice self-guided walking tour that you can download and print from their website and we have an interesting book at the Museum that concentrates on the POW years.

I also found a very interesting website that has a lot of pictures from all the versions of the camp, but concentrates more on the people who went to the Church Camp.  

Water fountain built by the CCC
If you are looking for a nice walk around the forest this fall or winter.  Check out Camp Michaux.

Eagle Project Improves Museum Grounds

Ali the Boy Scout has finished his Eagle Scout project.  He and his crew, rebuilt the fire ring, providing an area with a grate where you can cook.  They also built two picnic tables for the area and a nice fire wood rack.  I am very pleased with his work and wish him the best of luck on making Eagle.

New tables and fire ring
We hope to have a couple of nice picnics next year using these new fixtures on our grounds.

Things Coming Down the Trail

March 26, 2016 - AT Museum opens for the 2016 season

1 comment:

  1. Nice final goodbye to 2015---thanks to Joe and all the volunteers! Gwen