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AMC Timeline of Significant Events

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AMC is Launched

1876

Professor Edward Charles Pickering (MIT) and entomologist Samuel Hubbard Scudder (an ardent collector of butterflies in the Berkshires) establish the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) to explore and preserve New Hampshire's White Mountains. The club is incorporated two years later. Today it is the oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization in the U.S.

Appalachia Journal: Inspired Writing

1876

Appalachia is launched. The journal features poems, accident reports, write-ups of international mountaineering expeditions, updates on newsworthy stories on mountaineering and conservation, research and reports about field science, and reviews of books, maps, and other media. Appalachia is published twice a year and is America’s longest-running journal of mountaineering and conservation. SUBSCRIBE TO APPALACHIA »

Advocating for Land

1882

AMC lobbies the Massachusetts Legislature for the rights of municipalities to set aside lands for public use. One result is the Public Domain Acts of 1882, which grants towns and cities the authority to provide for the preservation and reproduction of forests.

The First Guidebook

1882
Map

Appalachia issues Walking Guide to the Mt. Washington Range, AMC’s first guide book. Suddenly, hikers and tourists have a reliable map, and the doors to hiking in the White Mountains are flung wide open.

The Legacy Begins

1888
Madison hut

Madison Spring Hut – the oldest hut site in the U.S. – is constructed. The first overnight guests visit in the winter of 1889, and in 1906 a fee of 50 cents per night is instituted to utilize the shelter.

To Have and to Hold

1893

The Massachusetts Legislature enlarges AMC’s charter "to enable it to hold mountain and forest lands and historic sites, and so preserve the beauty and attractiveness of our mountains, and especially of their forests."

First Land Purchase

1895

AMC makes its first conservation land purchase, acquiring 36 acres along Snyder Brook in Randolph, NH to protect a strip of old-growth forest from logging. The land is donated to the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) in 1937.

A Landed Gift

1898

Sarah Bryant Fay gifts 203 acres of land in the towns of North Woodstock and Lincoln, NH to AMC. Later dubbed the Joseph Story Fay Reservation in honor of her father, it is the largest and most valuable tract the club has received to date. AMC will donate the land – now known as Fay State Forest – to the State of New Hampshire in 1933.

The Hut That Shelters

1901
Lakes of the Clouds

A shelter is erected just below the summit of Mount Monroe in response to the deaths of two hikers who were caught in a storm on their way to an AMC meeting on Mount Washington. Located adjacent to its namesake Lakes of the Clouds tarns, the shelter is rebuilt as a hut in 1915. Today it is the highest, largest, and most popular of the AMC huts.

The System Takes Shape

1904
Carter Notch hut

Carter Notch – the easternmost hut – starts out as a simple log cabin. It is rebuilt in hut form in 1914. Successful operation of Carter Notch establishes the hut as a viable economic pursuit and AMC begins to lay plans for a full system.

Passage of the Weeks Act

1911

AMC's best-known conservation advocacy project to date culminates in the passage of the Weeks Act, which allows the use of federal funds to purchase forest land for conservation. It eventually leads to the creation of the WMNF.

Trail Work Commences

1919
1924 trail crew

The first modern trail crew, composed of Sherman Adams (the future Governor of New Hampshire and President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff) amongst others, clears trails, replaces signs, constructs and repairs shelters, builds log bridges over bogs and rivers, and removes stumps from pathways in the White Mountains. The same trail work continues today nearly unchanged. This photo of AMC's 1924 trail crew was taken at NH's Flume Gorge and shows (L to R) Harland P. Sisk, Leonard B. Beach, William J. Henrich, William L. Starr, Frederick Fish, Harold D. Miller (Trailmaster), and Dana C. Backus. Photo by Paul R. Jenks.

Go There and Roam

1920
Joe Dodge Lodge

The Pinkham Notch Visitor Center is constructed on land leased by the club from the Umbagog Paper Company that was added to the WMNF in 1918. Originally a lodge with a small trading post for supplies and information, the center has since been transformed into a hub for natural history, conservation education, and outdoor recreation training.

First Ski Trip

1925

The ski gains some acceptance as an alternative to the snowshoe for winter forays on AMC club trips (Eastman, 2012). Weekly ski trips begin in 1927.

A Phenominal Journey Begins

1928
Joe Dodge Hut

The legendary Joe Dodge (driving) – "father of the AMC hut system" – becomes AMC's second Huts Manager, following in the mighty footsteps of Milton Emery "Red Mac" MacGregor (1884-1976). Joe (1898-1973) will go on to play a long-running and key role in the expansion of the system, acting as Huts Master until 1959.

Lonesome Lake is Acquired

1929
W.C. Prime camp

Lonesome Lake – an 1876 fishing camp built by author W.C. Prime – becomes part of the AMC hut system when the State of New Hampshire asks the club to run it as a shelter. It will be demolished and rebuilt in 1965.

The Western MA Chapter is Founded

1929

The Western Massachusetts (Western MA) Chapter is founded as the Berkshire Chapter to serve the geographic region defined by the four counties that comprise western Massachusetts, namely: Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden. It will change its name to Western MA in 2020.

AMC Joins the Weather Bureau

1930

Joe Dodge becomes the official Weather Bureau observer at Pinkham Notch, where weather data have been collected ever since. Two years later, Dodge helps found the Mount Washington Observatory.

A New Era

1930
Greenleaf Hut

Greenleaf Hut is completed with a wood exterior, leaving behind the stone and masonry construction technique utilized in earlier huts. Building supplies are hauled in by donkeys up the aptly-named Old Bridle Path. The new hut boasts running water and indoor toilets, reflecting an evolution in design from a simple shelter towards a mountainside hostel.

Cutting the A.T.

1930
Cutting the A.T

An early trail crew cuts the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in Massachusetts.

Going Farther Afield

1931
Galehead Hut

Galehead – the most isolated hut in the system – is constructed on Garfield Ridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness using onsite timber. Seven years later, the Great New England Hurricane destroys the surrounding forest. The hut, however, rides out the storm intact.

A Noble View

1931
Noble View Outdoor Center

AMC’s Western MA chapter purchases Noble View, an historic farmstead built in the 1800s. Located on a pristine mountaintop overlooking Massachusett's Connecticut River Valley, AMC's new outdoor center features 360 acres of woodlands, trails, and abandoned farm fields to explore.

Linking West and East

1932
Map

Zealand Falls – one of the last two links in the chain connecting the western huts with those in the Presidential Range – is constructed.

The Army Moves In

1943
Newspaper clipping

One day last fall we received a telephone call from a lieutenant asking if it would be possible to arrange a meeting to discuss the details necessary to get permission for a Signal Corps detachment to camp at Noble View – four days after they'd already taken the gate apart and moved in. After some legal wrangling, we understood that the U.S. was to pay us a rental fee of $1, which granted them complete use of the place for an indefinite stay.

National Geographic Takes Notice

1961

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas publishes a 35-page article in National Geographic, praising the area of AMC's backcountry huts. The club's popularity soars, necessitating plans for an eighth hut to deal with the subsequent increase in hikers (Jermanok, 2006).

Closing the Gap

1964
Mizpah hut

Mizpah Spring Hut – built to withstand 200 mile-per-hour winds – is erected with materials brought in by helicopter. This final hut closes the gap between west and east, enabling hikers to make the journey from Zealand Falls to Lakes of the Clouds in just two days (Reifsnyder, 1979).

Advancing Opportunities for Youth

1968
Hikers at Carter Notch

AMC’s Youth Opportunities Program (PDF) is founded to make the outdoors accessible and meaningful to youth living in urban and under-resourced communities.

Campsite Caretakers are Deployed

1970
Caretaker at Liberty Springs

A seasonal caretaker is placed at Liberty Springs Tentsite to manage use, giving rise to AMC's Campsite and Caretaker Program. Caretakers inform hikers on how to minimize their impact on campsites in the White Mountains.

Joe Dodge Lodge Groundbreaking

1972
Groundbreaking of Joe Dodge Lodge

AMC begins construction of Joe Dodge Lodge adjacent to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (Joe, seen here second from left).

Winter Hospitality Arrives at the Huts

1972
A skier outside Zealand Falls Hut

Zealand Falls becomes the first hut to welcome overnight guests during the off season. For $4, visitors can stay overnight but they must bring their own sleeping bag and food. Carter Notch and Lonesome Lake follow suit in 1974 and 2002, respectively.

I-93 Construction is Halted

1975

AMC wins a permanent injunction against I-93 construction north of Franconia Notch based on deficiencies in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement.

Major Excursions Launch

ca. 1979
Corsica, France

AMC's Major Excursions (now Adventure Travels) is officially established, after running trips to far-off locations since the 1900s. Experienced volunteer leaders create, plan, and lead excursions, while fostering a dynamic and active group environment.

To Catch A Cloud

1981
A science intern takes air samples

AMC begins investigating the precipitation of acid rain on the upper slopes of the White Mountains at monitoring sites on Lafayette and Washington. Our "cloud catchers" continue to collect samples near Lakes of the Clouds to this day.

Revamping the Club

1988

AMC begins a controversial transformation in management and governance, from a volunteer-directed leadership with a small, paid staff to a corporate-style board of directors charged with policy and oversight.

AMC Launches Operations at the Mohican Outdoor Center

1993
Mohican Outdoor Center

Located on a beautiful glacial lake in the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Mohican Outdoor Center quickly becomes an ideal retreat for groups and families.

Air Quality Matters. A Lot.

1995

An air quality monitoring station is set up at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. The station still runs today, in cooperation with the NH Department of Environmental Science.

Composting Toilets Make Their Debut

1997

AMC begins installing continuous composting toilets at the high huts.

Advocacy in the Highlands

1998

AMC joins the Highlands Coalition, an advocacy group focused on land protection in the Highlands region of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

A New Strategy for Land Conservation

2003

AMC purchases 37,000 acres of land east of Moosehead Lake and southwest of Baxter State Park along the A.T.'s 100-Mile Wilderness. As the largest conservation project undertaken by AMC to date, this innovative program – called the Maine Woods Initiative (MWI) – integrates habitat protection, recreation, education, and sustainable forestry in one of the last undeveloped woodlands in the continental U.S.

The Highland Center Opens

2003
Highland Center

Surrounded by 4,000-footers in Crawford Notch, the Highland Center offers "green" lodging, hearty meals, complimentary activities, and a wide range of educational programs.

The Highlands Conservation Act is Signed

2004

The Highlands Conservation Act is signed, following advocacy by AMC and other members of the Highlands Coalition.

Preserving a Maine Woods Tradition

2004
Little Lyford cabins

Little Lyford Pond Camps (now Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins) opened in 1874 on the border of the West Branch of the Pleasant River in northern Maine. The property included a main lodge and 13 cabins, as well as satellite camps for housing loggers. AMC purchased the site in 2004 in an effort to continue providing quiet recreational opportunities in the North Maine Woods while protecting the land upon which the camps sit.

Lakes Goes Flush Free

2005

The flush toilets at Lakes of the Clouds are converted to a direct deposit system, eliminating the use of water to transport waste to the septic system and greatly reducing the amount of liquid requiring treatment. Madison Spring Hut follows suit six years later.

The NET is Designated

2009

The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is federally designated. AMC and the Connecticut Forest & Park Association enter into a formal partnership with the National Park Service to serve as the NET’s principal trail stewards.

Archiving AMC

2010
Cyclists in Boston in the 1940s

AMC receives the first of eight NEH grants, enabling the club to preserve thousands of photographic images and documents dating to the 1870s. The first grant enabled a conservation assessment, which set our Library & Archives on a path toward sustainability and preservation of AMC's collections. We encourage and promote the use of these materials for teaching, learning, research, and public service. Visit our Library and Archives to search our collections.

Gorman Chairback Opens

2011
Gorman Chairback Lodge

AMC opens the newly rebuilt Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins, a former private camp constructed in 1867 and a LEED-registered green building.

AMC Unveils Final Renovations at Noble View

2011
Noble View Outdoor Center

Noble View Outdoor Center reopens following an eight-year volunteer-led project to improve guest lodging. A conservation easement now permanently protects nearly 360 acres of AMC-owned land at the center.

Investing in Our Future

2012

AMC becomes a committed partner with teachers, schools, and other youth providers to engage K-12 students in meaningful, outdoor environmental experiences that enhance academic achievement and tie into Maine's curriculum frameworks. As part of AMC’s MWI, the Maine Woods Community Youth and Environment Program helps young people in Piscataquis County learn about – and connect with – the wilderness in their own back yards.

AMC Acquires Baker Mountain

2015

AMC purchases 4,300 acres of scenic and ecologically significant land on and around Baker Mountain in the 100-Mile Wilderness for permanent protection.

Medawisla Opens for Business

2017

AMC expands its Maine Woods Initiative with a new eco-lodge at Medawisla. WATCH VIDEO »

A New Summer Retreat

2017

Hidden in New York's second-largest park, the Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center opens for summer getaways. WATCH VIDEO »

Preserving the Dark Sky

2021
Dark sky

AMC's Maine Woods property is designated an International Dark Sky Park – the first in New England.

Safeguarding the PRHF

2022
Pleasant River

AMC purchases the ~27,000-acre Pleasant River Headwaters Forest (PRHF) in Piscataquis County, ME for $18.5 million from The Conservation Fund. AMC has now acquired – and permanently protected – more than 100,000 acres of forest and fish habitat in Maine.

References

Eastman, T. (2012). The History of Cranmore Mountain, The History Press, Charleson, S.C., 160p.
Jermanok, S. (2006). Delicate Terrain, boston.com news (accessed 09/12/2022).
Reifsnyder, W. (1979). High Huts of the White Mountains, 2nd: Nature Walks, Natural History, and Day Hikes around the AMC's Mountain Hostels, AMC, 256 p.
Background photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash.
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