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The AT

This is a view looking east from the Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah National Forest.  The Shenandoah National Forest was established in the 1930’s as the first National Park in eastern USA.  At a time of high unemployment, the CCC – the Civilian Conservation Corps – was started to give young unemployed men from poor families a job making the roads, and the trails in the park. They got $30 a week, of which $25 went straight home to their families.

Part of the park was the Skyline Drive, a road that runs for 105 miles from Front Royal in the north to Waynesboro in the south.  In order to set up the national park, the federal government had to buy the land, which involved resettling hundreds of people who were living in the area.  Many of these people did not want to move, and their were numerous court cases as they challenged the right of the government to move them off their land.  
Once more, an example of the powerful displacing people from their home !
As well as the conflict between the local inhabitants and the federal government, there was trouble between the newly established Shenandoah National Park and those who had recently set up the Appalachian Trail.  The Appalachian Trail (AT) came from Benton MacKaye who had the idea in 1921 to have a hiking route from Georgia to Maine, a distance of over 2000 miles.  The AT was finally finished in 1937, but when the National Park service was building the Skyline Drive, it turned out that they wanted to use the same route that was already being walked by the hikers!
Today hikers along the AT in Virginia follow a trail that runs close beside the Skyline Drive.  hardly the wilderness experience envisaged by Benton MacKaye, but it has opened up this beautiful country for tourists like us!

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