AMC Trail Crew Association papers, 1914-2009

Collection number: MC 232
Size: 9 boxes (3.68 cu.ft.)

About the AMC Trail Crew Association

Conservationists founded the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876, but the Club did not hire seasonal trail crews in the modern form until 1919. That first gang, composed of Sherman Adams (the future Governor of New Hampshire and President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff), Dudley Carleton, John Fuller, Cyril Fyles, Otto Hess, Paul Jenks, Carleton Reed, and Clarence Stilwill, cleared trails, replaced signs, constructed and repaired shelters, built log bridges over bogs and rivers, and removed stumps from pathways. The same trail work continues today nearly unchanged. The tools remain much the same from the early twentieth century, although helicopter drops have transformed the logistics of shelter construction and other transportation concerns. In 1972, moreover, the Trail Crew abandoned its long-time home at Hutton Lodge in Whitefield, New Hampshire, for new quarters at Pinkham Notch. Nevertheless, fresh air, exhaustion, splinters, dirt, mosquitoes, mud, flies, unpredictable weather, and great mountain vistas have remained an integral part of the trail crew experience.

Camaraderie and love of the outdoors inspired the creation of the AMC Trail Crew Association in 1952. It was certainly not the first time that alumni sat about and shared drinks and stories; after all, the first recorded trail crew alumni reunion was held at the house of Roy Bailey in November of 1948, and there were probably a few informal ones before that. Nevertheless, the Trail Crew Association was organized to foster a renewed sense of community and outreach amongst an otherwise scattered community. The founders of 1952 asked for annual dues of $1.00 to fund the mailing of their November newsletter, Chips and Clippings. Today, the Trail Crew Association asks for slightly higher annual fees, but their mission remains the same. The current Association maintains an addressee list of current and past trail crew members, holds an annual reunion in Boston and two weekend reunions in summer at Shelburne Lodge, and continues to publish Chips and Clippings. The Association’s main office lies in North Conway, but they also maintain a cabin for reunion use in Shelburne, New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire recognized the Trail Crew Association’s application for incorporation as a non-profit in 1999.

About the AMC Trail Crew Association papers

The collection includes administrative and hiring documents, work reports from the trails, publications, correspondence, slides and photographs, maps, and even a few artifacts, audio cassettes, and CDs. The collection is divided into seven main series, with the first three containing documents that describe the three functions of the Trail Crew Association: administration, labor, and alumni relations.

The first series of the collection describes the structural makeup of the Trail Crew Association, while the second series is notable for its portrait of seasonal employees working in the White Mountain backcountry. The first subseries, “Trail Crew Applications,” reveals the ways in which young people thought about working and playing in the wilderness and what it would mean to them to be a steward of the mountains. Now and then, the applications have been marked with a pencil-scrawl of “Hired!” These items are of significance to the environmental historian as they capture the mood, spirit, and vocabulary of conservation from the 1960s to the 1980s. The second subseries, “Trail Crew Lists,” might be useful to trail crew alumni as well as historians. Also interesting is the last folder in the series, “Trail Crew correspondence, 1990s,” which includes mostly off-season cards and letters. “It amazes me how much more entertaining people are in the woods,” one trail crew member wrote to friends while working in the Rocky Mountains in an undated card. Another member even wrote about his experiences working on the trail crew to get him into college, and his essay is included in the folder.

The final subseries, “Trail Crew Work Reports and Schedules,” details not only the trail crew’s day-to-day labor, but also the group’s wit and character. Some of these documents deviate from their normal seriousness, especially in the years 1979-1984, when the creative, raucous, and assertive energies of the crew were in full bloom and on open display. Among the more moderate examples is a work schedule for June 27-July 1, 1980. The scheduler informs Rico, Murph, “Pandaman,” and Dave that “we’re going back in time, to the days when men were men and sheep were scared,” and that they will be constructing wooden ladders. Their housing: “one of the beautiful love nest bungalos of Tukermine Ravine. Have fun boys,” the supervisor closes, “and, remember, hold up the crow bar at the first sign of lightning.” In 1981, the work scheduler decided to add quotes of the week to his typewrites. For August 20-24, 1982, the quotes were “It’s a death pack, a suicide rap, we have to get out while we are young,” and “Long live tall trees, tall men, tall ladders, and naked dancing.”

The Trail Crew Association news bulletin, Chips and Clippings, included in Series 3, contains valuable information about the organization’s reunion activities, trail maintenance highlights, and personnel news. It is also valuable for its coverage of the 1960s, a decade that is conspicuously lacking throughout the collection. Other notable items in the manuscript collection includes Series 3, Subseries 2, which document Trail Crew recollections from the first half of the twentieth century. “The Old Man’s Beard prank” (folder 1), in which trail crew members graced the Old Man with a stylish goatee in 1955, exhibits some of the most boisterous and fun-loving spirit of trail crew culture. Also noteworthy is the art of Victor “VJAM” Martineck and the miscellaneous information for White Mountain tourists in folder 9.

Series 5, “Photographs,” offers viewers a visual tour of the trail crew experience. The images, which date back as far as the 1920s, capture the rugged mountain scenery, the trails and trees, the camaraderie, the rough shelters and campsites, and the good humor of life in the White Mountains. It also includes photos of trail crew leisure time and reunions. The best documentation dates from the 1970s, when photographer George Bellrose unpacked his camera and created elegant and artistic portraits of trail crew work.

For more on the Trail Crew Association, interested researchers should also visit the official Trail Crew Association blog.

Note: Many of the photos contained in this collection are digitally preserved in the two DVDs in Series 7. Note that the iPhoto Library, which has organized the images into albums, can only be opened on Macintosh systems that have the iPhoto application. To work properly, the AMC Archives Library icon must be copied onto the computer’s desktop before trying to open it. Microsoft operating systems can get at the same individual photos in “JPEG” format, but they will not display the album sorting of iPhoto. Likewise, the CD-R holds more recent images, but none of them appear in hard copy in the collection. The photos in folders “D:\FUNGI2K1,” “PATROL,” “SHELBURNE,” “SIGNS,” and “TCA” must be opened with the software Package.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the University of New Hampshire.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Folder], [Box], AMC Trail Crew Association Papers, 1914-2009, MC 232, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated: Board of the AMC Trail Crew Association, 2009 (Accession number: 2010.16)

Collection Contents

Series 1: Administrative Documents, 1970-2008

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1Administrative correspondence, 1970-2007
Box 1, Folder 2Shelburne Lodge campaign, 1975-1998
Box 1, Folder 3Trail Crew work counts and costs, 1994-1996
Box 1, Folder 4Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1998-1999
Box 1, Folder 5Gift agreement with Milne Special Collections, 2008

Series 2: Personnel and Labor Documents, 1919-1998

Subseries A: Trail Crew Applications, 1960-1989

Box 1, Folder 6Trail Crew applications, 1960s
Box 1, Folder 7Trail Crew applications, 1970s
Box 1, Folder 8Trail Crew applications, 1980s

Subseries B: Trail Crew Lists, 1919-1998

Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1Trail Crew membership by year, 1919-1976
Box 2, Folder 2Trail Crew lists, 1970s
Box 2, Folder 3Trail Crew lists, 1980s

Subseries C: Trail Crew Work Reports and Schedules, 1953-1970

Box 2, Folder 9Trail Crew petty cashbook, 1953-1969
Box 2, Folder 10Trail Crew checkbook, 1959-1969
Box 2, Folder 11Report on Guyot Shelter, 1970
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1Trail Crew status reports and schedules, 1968-1971
Box 3, Folder 2Trail Crew work schedules and reports, 1972
Box 3, Folder 3Trail Crew work reports, 1975
Box 3, Folder 4Work reports, 1977
Box 3, Folder 5Work reports, 1978
Box 3, Folder 6Work reports, 1979
Box 3, Folder 7Work schedules, 1980
Box 3, Folder 8Work schedules and reports, 1981
Box 3, Folder 9Work schedules and reports, 1982
Box 3, Folder 10Work schedules and reports, 1983
Box 3, Folder 11Flaglines and Trail Program reports, 1983-1993
Box 3, Folder 12Work schedules and reports, 1984
Box 3, Folder 13Work log tally sheets, 1988
Box 3, Folder 14Work schedules and reports, 1989
Box 3, Folder 15Potential work projects, 1990
Box 3, Folder 16Work reports, 1990
Box 3, Folder 17Status reports and schedules, 1991
Box 4
Box 4, Folder 1Work completed, 1992
Box 4, Folder 2Out of state work reports, 1966-1992
Box 4, Folder 3Out of state trail publications, undated

Series 3: Alumni Relations, 1924-2008

Subseries A: Chips and Clippings, 1958-2008

Box 4, Folder 4Chips and Clippings, 1958-1974
Box 4, Folder 5Chips and Clippings, 1958-1980
Box 4, Folder 6Chips and Clippings, 1975-2008

Subseries B: Alumni Correspondence and Recollections, 1924-1979

Box 4, Folder 7TC recollections from 1924, 1990
Box 4, Folder 8Kent Eanes recollections, 1950-1979
Box 4, Folder 9Kent Eanes’ 1936 AMC White Mountain Guide, 1936
Box 5
Box 5, Folder 1“The Old Man’s Beard” prank, 1955
Box 5, Folder 2TC recollections, 1955-1978
Box 5, Folder 3TC Alumni Correspondence, 1975-1984
Box 5, Folder 475th Anniversary, 1994

Series 4: Miscellaneous Documents and Publications

Box 5, Folder 5Newspaper clippings
Box 5, Folder 6Magazine publications
Box 5, Folder 7Periodical articles
Box 5, Folder 8Victor J.A. “VJAM” Martineck’s art
Box 5, Folder 9Miscellaneous White Mountain tourist information

Series 5: Photographs, 1926-2006

Box 5, Folder 10Trail Crew photos, 1920s (mostly by Charles Bradford Mitchell), 1926-1928, 20 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches
Box 5, Folder 11Trail Crew photos, circa 1940, 42 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches
Box 5, Folder 12TC Crew and vehicle photos, 1940-1949, 20 photos, black and white and sepia, 7.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 5, Folder 13Tercentary Hike photos, 1942, 15 photos, black and white, 3 inches by 4.25 inches
Box 6
Box 6, Folder 1Yellow scrapbook (held in box 8), 1940s
Box 6, Folder 2Trail Crew slides, 1949-1962, 24 color slides
Box 6, Folder 3Black Album (held in box 8), 1950-1954
Box 6, Folder 4Bob Watt’s TC photos, 1952, 67 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches
Box 6, Folder 5Red Album scrapbook, 1952-1954, 26 photos in black and white or sepia; 7 photos in color, 5 inches by 3.5 inches
Box 6, Folder 6Building Great Gulf Bridge, 1953, 13 photos, color, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 6, Folder 77 Trail Crew photos, 1950s and 1960s, 7 photos in black and white, 7 photos in color, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 6, Folder 8Trail Crew photos, 1970s, 134, mostly color, most are 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 6, Folder 9George Bellrose photos, 1970s, 145 photos in black and white, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 7
Box 7, Folder 1TC and SCA slides, 1973-1996, 191 slides
Box 7, Folder 2Trails Committee meeting, circa 1980, 11 photos in black and white, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 3Trail Crew photos, 1980s, 137 photos, with some negatives
Box 7, Folder 4Trail Crew photos, circa 1990s, 3 photos in color, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 5Trail Crew photos, circa 2000s, 18 photos in color, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 6Summer reunion, 2003, 40 color photos, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 7Reunion Photos, 2003, 15 color photos, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 8Undated Trail Crew photos, 1950s?, 2 photos, 8.5 by 11 inches and 4 by 6.5 inches
Box 7, Folder 9Undated TC photos, 1970s?, 28 photos, both black and white and color, with negative prints
Box 7, Folder 10Undated TC photos, 1980s?, 7 photos, mostly color, 3.5 by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 11Various or undated TC images18 pen and ink sketches, 9 other various
Box 7, Folder 12White Mountain scenery, undated,17, various,
Box 7, Folder 13White Mountain postcards, undated,7, mostly color, 3.5 by 5.5 inches

Series 6: Artifacts

Box 8
Box 8, Item 1Photo of crystal cascade, Mt. Washington, NH, 1914
Box 8, Item 2Yellow scrapbook, 1940s
Box 8, Item 3Black Album, 1950-1954
Box 8, Item 4AMC shelter wall hanging, cloth
Box 8, Item 5AMC Mahoosuc trail sign, wood
Box 8, Item 6AMC Meader ridge trail sign, wood
Box 8, Item 7AMC Lawn Cut-Off side, metal

Series 7: Multimedia Materials

Box 8
Box 8, Item 1Letter from Bob Watts to Ben English concerning DVD donation, November 17, 2009
Box 8, Item 2-76 audiocassettes entitled “Trail Crew, 1994”
Box 8, Item 8Audiocassette, Shannon Byle’s interviews with Aldie Jenkins and Jack “Stretch” Hayes, 1950-1955
Box 8, Item 9Audiocassette, Trail Crew of ’53 and Great Gulf Bridge
Box 8, Item 9-102 DVDs entitled “AMC Trail Crew Archives,” including iPhoto Library
Box 8, Item 11CD-R from Bailey, photos 2000s

Series 8: Maps

Box 9
Box 9, Item 1White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1937, 34 by 33 inches
Box 9, Item 2White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1940, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 3White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1940, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 4White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1942, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 5Appalachian Mountain Club Trails in New Hampshire and Maine, 1947, 30 by 28 inches
Box 9, Item 6Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Mount Washington Range, by Louis F. Cutter, 1960, 23.5 by 15 inches
Box 9, Item 7Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Franconia Region, White Mountain National Forest by Robert T. Holloran, 1972, 21 by 16 inches
Box 9, Item 8Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Mount Washington Range by Louis F. Cutter, 1972, 23 by 15 inches
Box 9, Item 9Hiking Trails of New England by the New England Trail Conference, circa 1973, 20.5 by 16.5 inches
Box 9, Item 10Appalachian Mountain Club Carter-Mahoosuc (on reverse side: Rangley-Stratton), 1976, 23 by 17 inches
Box 9, Item 11The Appalachian Mountain Club Map of Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park (on reverse side: Weld), 1976, 17 by 14 inches
Finding Aid Image TEMP
  • Hikers climbing a ladder