The History of Fall Hiking Week

Painting of Moat Mountain
Moat Mountain from Jackson, NH. George Loring Brown, 1877.

Fall Hiking Week - the beginning.

The year is 1882. What is life like in the United States? What events are happening?

Chester A. Arthur is president. There are 50 million people living in the 38 states in the union. The average person's life expectancy at birth is less than 50 years.

A pound of coffee costs 29 cents. A pair of men's boots costs $3.19. A four room tenement can be rented for $7.99 per month.

On January 2nd, John D. Rockefeller and his associates form the Standard Oil trust. On January 30th, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born. On April 3rd, bank robber Jesse James is shot and killed by a member of his own gang at St. Joseph, Missouri. On July 16th, Mary Todd Lincoln dies.

On July 29th, the narrow gauge Catskill Mountain Railway opens to carry passengers from Hudson River steamboats to connections at Palenville, New York to the Catskill Mountain House destination resort.

On September 4th, on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, Thomas Edison flips the switch to the first commercial electrical power plant in history, lighting one square mile of the city. This is considered by many as the day that began the electrical age.

And on September 28th, 1882, ninety-five members of the Appalachian Mountain Club left Boston by rail in two special cars on an "Autumn Excursion". Destination: the Equinox House in Manchester, VT. Thus begins the long and colorful history of a Fall Hiking Week, which in modern times is hosted by AMC's Connecticut Chapter.

Over the years, the tradition of a week of hiking in the fall has been known under different names and has been held at many locations in the mountains of the Northeast. In recent years, the event (now known as Fall Hiking Week) has centered in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, rotating each year between several different resort hotels.

In the 1980's, the late Alan Saftel researched the history of "one of the AMC's fine traditions". An edited version of his article was later published in AMC's Appalachia Journal. If you would like to read the full text of his article click here.

Today's visitor to Fall Hiking Week can know that they are participating in a unique event with a long, rich history and tradition.

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