Appalachian Trail Landmark, Overmountain Shelter, to be Removed
Overmountain Shelter, a popular stop for thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail near Roan Mountain, Tennessee, was closed four years ago due to structural instability. Following a decision by the U.S. Forest Service, the shelter will be removed this week.
The shelter was originally a barn on private land, which was acquired by the Forest Service in 1979. It was then converted into a shelter for thru-hikers and maintained by the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club. Since then, it has been an iconic and much-loved stop for countless hikers throughout the years.
The End of an Era
The Appalachian Ranger District closed the shelter in 2019 when Forest Service engineers determined the structure was unsafe. “People from all over have loved camping inside this old barn,” said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh in a 2019 press release by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), “but now there’s a real risk of it collapsing. Unfortunately, the barn was not originally designed to accommodate human occupancy.”
Although efforts were made to maintain the shelter, slope movement caused it to lean downhill, a support beam snapped underneath the loft where hikers sleep, wooden posts rotted, and wind and heavy snow put stress on the whole structure. Ultimately, repairing the shelter was considered unsustainable, and rebuilding it would not have met the management plans for the A.T. and the Pisgah National Forest, according to a release by the Forest Service.
“This was a tough decision to make,” said District Ranger Jen Barnhart. “Many people have fond memories of staying at the shelter, and we empathize with those who will miss the Overmountain shelter.”
When the shelter is removed, some of the materials may be used by partner organizations for commemorative purposes. The field near the shelter will still be available for tent camping, the privy will remain with the possibility of future improvements, and a bench may be placed in the shelter footprint.
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