According to the AT guide, Grindstaff was orphaned at three, then robbed and
beaten on a trip out West at age 26. Disillusioned, he became a hermit and lived
his remaining 45 years on Iron Mountain with only his dogs as companions.
Someone had placed a small wind chime and ceramic heart on the monument as a
tribute (see photo at top of page).
The memorials to two children along the AT are also sad.
Ottie's small memorial and grave are right along the Trail at the summit of
Bluff Mountain. As you can see in the photo above, hikers have placed various toys and other
memorabilia on the monument to commemorate the child's death.
Jim found the other child's white marble stone along the dirt road not far
from Mad Tom Notch in western Vermont on
Thirteen-year-old Johnny M. Howard was crushed to death by a
load of lumber in that location 'way back in 1887, a few years before
"Monuments and archaeological pieces serve as testimonies of
man's greatness and establish a dialogue between civilizations showing the
extent to which human beings are linked."
- Vincente Fox
Some memorials pay tribute to folks who are more widely known.
there is an impressive granite monument to Audie Murphy, the most-decorated
military person in World War II. Murphy, who was later an actor, died in an
airplane crash in 1971 on the summit of Brush Mountain.
The four-foot high
memorial is inscribed with his acts of valor and is located on an unmarked trail
200 feet off the AT about halfway between Craig Creek and Trout Creek. See
The Appalachian Trail in Maryland is steeped in history
from the Revolutionary War and Civil War. On
61 in Maryland I went by several graves and monuments to men who played prominent
parts in the history of our country.
The most famous
of these is George Washington, who would become our first president. There are
memorials to him in several states.
When you think of the Washington Monument,
probably the tall, simple memorial in Washington, D.C., comes to mind. It was
finished in 1885. But here is another "Washington Monument," erected much
earlier to pay tribute to this great hero:
A sign near the monument reads,
"Volunteer villagers of nearby Boonesboro celebrated
their Independence Day, July 4, 1827, by building and dedicating this first
monument to the memory of George Washington.
Restored and altered many times over a hundred years by patriotic citizens,
it was finally restored to its original design in 1934-36 by the Civilian
This monument, used by the Union Army during the Civil Was as a signal
station, and its surrounding land was bought by the Washington County Historical
Society in 1922 and presented to the State of Maryland for a park developed in
This massive structure was certified a "Maryland Historical Monument" in
March, 1972 and a "National Historical Monument" in November, 1972."
Although he is not as famous, a Brigadier General from the Civil
War, Samuel Garland, Jr., is buried along the AT in Maryland. Garland was a
Confederate soldier from Lynchburg, VA. He was killed on September 14, 1862 in
nearby Wise's Field while leading his men in a battle. This is his headstone:
The third memorial I passed on
Day 61 was in Gathland State Park, one of a
string of parks through which the AT passes in Maryland.
"Gath" was the nom de plume of the most prolific Civil War
correspondent, George Alfred Townsend. According to the AT guide, he constructed
several stone buildings at Cramptom Gap after the war: "a home, a house
for his wife, a hall, a library, a lodge, a guesthouse, servants' houses, stable
and a tomb for himself (see photo below), where he was not buried. He called his estate 'Gathland'."
After Townsend's death most of the buildings were vandalized. A wing of the
house has been restored and is currently a museum in the park. There is also an
elaborate arch at the entrance to the park that was dedicated in 1896 as a
memorial to Civil War correspondents and artists. The museum and arch are
pictured in my entry on
One of the people who had the most profound influence on building the
Appalachian Trail was Myron H. Avery, who has a beautiful peak named for him in
the Bigelow mountain range in Maine. There are photos from the summit on
135 and in several post entries of my favorite places.
appropriate place to honor this man, who lived from 1899 to 1952. Engraved on
the plaque shown below is a tribute to Avery, "whose foresight, leadership, and
diligence made possible the Appalachian Trail, this 2,000-mile footpath from
Maine to Georgia."
Thank you, Mr. Avery and everyone else who made possible this
NEGLECTED BURIAL PLOTS
Two other little interesting cemeteries caught my eye as I wandered that path
(from Georgia to Maine, not the other way).
This totally unkempt family cemetery in Pennsylvania saddened both Jim and
as we passed by on
Day 65. Surrounded by an attractive iron fence,
the 19th century headstones were in disarray, some crumbled and broken, and weeds had taken
over. We wondered why the ancestors of the people buried there have not
taken better care of the burial plot:
And finally, there was this wrought-iron archway with the words, "The Gate of Heaven"
poignantly cast toward the sky, in another weedy place, this time in New
A side trail leads to a small cemetery on the grounds of a former state mental
The path was obscure and the day was hot so I didn't traipse up the
hill to see the headstones. But I liked the gate!
There. I hope this photo essay wasn't too much of "downer." I've always
enjoyed visiting monuments around the country, and little cemeteries have always
fascinated me, so I was more intrigued than bummed out to learn about the history of the
people memorialized along the AT.
These photos do emphasize the point, however, that life is short - sometimes
VERY short. Live each day like it might be your last one!
I've catalogued over 3,000 AT photos now and will include some of them in
several dozen photo essays covering categories like dramatic skies, idyllic valley
views, jungle-y forests, cascading creeks, various flora and fauna, covered
bridges, historical places, trail towns, humorous signs, strange and interesting
things to see along the AT, and yes, even some less-than-lovely views - that
of 1 percent of the AT I haven't shown you yet! (Wicked, eh?)
Next up: more rock structures in the form of walls, abandoned buildings,
fireplaces, etc. along the Appalachian Trail.