The Green Tunnel explores the history and culture of the United States’ most iconic long-distance hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail. Hosted by Mills Kelly, the show delves into topics including the quirky history of trail food, the shelters and structures built along the trail, and dangers you might encounter during a hike.
Hiking Connecticut with “Jester” Section Hiker
Planning section hikes can take a lot of work. Luckily, every section hiker out there has a go-to podcast to help with that planning. Julie Gayheart hosts the “Jester” Section Hiker podcast and there is no better resource for anyone interested in section hiking the Appalachian Trail. Today, Julie walks us through what it takes to hike the Connecticut section of the trail.
A Life Crafted for the Outdoors with Orange Blaze
Today we’re headed to Florida. While the AT doesn’t run through Florida, the state has a lot of great trails, including the Florida Trail. And one of the best ways for you to learn about the FT is by listening to Orange Blaze. This podcast highlights the experience of hikers along the Florida Trail and is hosted by Misti ‘Ridley’ Little.
When the Appalachian Trail project began, volunteer clubs up and down the length of the trail committed themselves to first scouting, then building, and then maintaining the trail. In the last episode of season two, we are digging into the critical role women played in the early years of the AT. They played such a big role, some trail clubs limited the number of women allowed to join.
Iconic Locations: Fontana Dam
Today, we’re hiking on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, to the site of Fontana Dam. It’s the tallest dam east of the Rocky Mountains. Constructed in the 1940s, the dam and its resulting reservoir flooded four towns and affected the daily lives and memories of many people. So, why was the dam built and what lies beneath the cool blue waters of Fontana Lake?
“Fontana Dam, N.C.,” Appalachian Trail Conservancy
“The History of Fontana Village,” Fontana Village Resort and Marina.
“Interview with Commodore A. Casada, 11 November 2009,” interview by Rhydon T. Atzenhoffer, Oral Histories of Western North Carolina, Southern Appalachian Digital Collections.
Archival Photographs of Fontana Village and Fontana Lake, Southern Appalachian Digital Collections.
“Fontana,” Tennessee Valley Authority.
“Tennessee Valley Authority Act (1933),” National Archives and Records Administration.
Pete Seeger, "The TVA Song," Gazette, Vol. 1 (1958) Smithsonian Folkways Recordings https://folkways.si.edu/pete-seeger/gazette-vol-1/american-folk/music/album/smithsonian.
The Weight of History
The Appalachian Trail is a much more diverse place in 2023 than it was as recently as 20 years ago. But if you spend much time on the trail, you know it’s still a pretty white place. There are many stories about the challenges faced by members of marginalized communities who hike the AT, and we need a lot more research to better understand how the history of the trail and the history of race are closely interwoven.
On today’s episode, attorney Krystal Williams of Maine and historian Phoebe Young of the University of Colorado-Boulder help us explore specifically how the history of the AT crosses paths with African American history, in ways you might not expect.
Mills Kelly, “The A.T. and Race” AT Journeys, February 2021: https://appalachiantrail.org/official-blog/the-a-t-and-race/.
Megan Rosenbloom, Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin (New York: MacMillian, 2020).
Noelle Smith, “How Perceived Racial Differences Created a Crisis in Black Women’s Healthcare,” Nursing Clio, March 31, 2020,
Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (New York: Random House, 2008).
Phoebe S. K. Young, Camping Grounds: Public Nature in American Life from the Civil War to the Occupy Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021).
Iconic Locations: Harpers Ferry
Long before Harpers Ferry, Virginia became the emotional halfway point for Appalachian Trail thru hikers, it was the site of one of the most important events in 19th century American history. In the fall of 1859, the abolitionist John Brown and 22 of his compatriots attacked the federal arsenal there, hoping to spark an insurrection against slavery in the American South on the eve of the Civil War.
On today's episode, historian Jonathan Earle of Louisiana State University explores Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and the landscape hikers now pass through today.
AT hiker photographs: [https://athikerpictures.org/]
Jonathan Earle, John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry: A Brief History with Documents (2008).
Harpers Ferry Stories from the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/historyculture/stories.htm
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia: An Annotated Edition, ed. Robert Pierce Forbes (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2022), 36-38.
Pete Seeger, America’s Favorite Ballads, Vol. 3, Folkways Records, 1959, vinyl. https://folkways.si.edu/pete-seeger/american-favorite-ballads-vol-3/american-folk/music/album/smithsonian.
Harpers Ferry Stories from the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/historyculture/stories.htm.
Two thumbs up for Mills Kelly and the Green Tunnel team! I am an AT section hiker and I have learned some much from this series. Each episode is well researched and produced. Mills is entertaining and the podcast has enriched my experience on trail. I highly recommend this podcast!!!
Great podcast looking at all facets of the AT!
Really enjoy this deep dive into the good and not-so-good of the AT’s history!