Appalachian Trail Museum
Located in Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park, about two miles from the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail, the Museum is halfway between Maine and Georgia. Appropriately, the Museum is housed in a building that is itself a historical artifact, a structure built more than two hundred years ago as a grist mill. It stands across the road from the Pine Grove general store, a site famed in hiker lore. It is here that thru-hikers traditionally stop to celebrate reaching the midpoint by eating — or attempting to eat — a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting.
The Old Mill is owned by the State Park, but has had limited use in recent years. Following the negotiation of a lease agreement that allowed the building’s use for museum purposes, extensive renovations were undertaken — mostly with the use of volunteer labor. The result is that the main floor is now up to code requirements and is in use as the Appalachian Trail Museum. Plans are in the works for future renovations, as funds become available, that will make space available on another floor.
Current exhibits include a trail shelter that was built by hiker legend Earl Shaffer. The shelter, which has been replaced with a more modern one, was painstakingly disassembled at its former site on Peters Mountain in Pennsylvania and reassembled in the new Museum. In addition, there are artifacts that belonged to other hiking pioneers such as Grandma Gatewood, Gene Espy, and Ed Garvey. In the Museum computers display the more than 12,000 photos that have been taken of thru-hikers as they reached Harpers Ferry on their journeys either north or south. There is also a children’s discovery area and hiker welcoming areas both inside and outside.