History of The Horse-Shoe Trail Club/Conservancy



History Of The Horse-Shoe Trail Club/Conservancy

“Let us work for a trail in the East, free from the automobile, without gas stations, bill boards or hot dog stands on its entire length of 120 miles, dedicated as a parkway from Valley Forge to Manada Gap for hikers, riders and nature lovers.”


Henry Woolman was the founder of the Horse-Shoe Trail Club (now Conservancy) and its president from its founding in 1935 until his death in 1951.  Woolman, an enthusiastic horseman, had ridden the Smokey Mountain section of the Appalachian Trail and concluded that the mountainous section of southeastern Pennsylvania was equally scenic, and should have its own trail.  His proposal was to establish a trail connecting Philadelphia with the Appalachian Trail at Manada Gap.  The incorporating group was made up of citizens of the five counties through which the Trail now runs.  Notable among them was Charles Hazlehurst, who was the seventh man to walk the entire Appalachian Trail.  He and Henry Woolman, representing hikers and horsemen respectively, devised the hyphenated name of the organization, “Horse-Shoe,” to express both interests, and the logo, a horseshoe with a moccasin across. To accommodate travelers, Henry Woolman was also instrumental in establishing youth hostels along the Trail.
Henry N. Woolman  Samuel P. Wetherill, Jr. Wm. Nelson West, 3rd
Nelson L. West Clarence E. Wunder Thomas Weidemann
J. A. Lafore Edward Woolman H.J. Bierson  
Chas. H. Muhlenberg, Jr Harry S. McDevitt Clyde E. Fisher
Lynn G. Adams Ehrman B. Mitchell Otto T. Mallery
M. Erdman Caroline Miller Huber Jonathan M. Steere
Frank M. Hardt H. Harkins N. Hershey Myron H.
Claude E. Runkel Fred Taylor Pusey AveryJames Fentress
W. A. Gilman Edward E. Croll Benjamin Schneyer
Carlos Lopes  J.N. Pew, Jr Percival E. Foerderer
Nicholas Biddle Charles Hazlehurst  Wm. H. Moore
Wm. H. Moore Wm. H. Moore Frank B. Foster
Lillian Gest Martin Kilpatrick Edgar W. Nicholson
Samuel L. Smedley  Lewis H. Van Dusen Horace C. Porter

In 2009, to better reflect the purpose of the group, the name “Horse-Shoe Trail Club” was changed to “Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy”, and the mission statement was revised to say “The purpose of this Corporation shall be to protect, preserve, and maintain the Horse-Shoe Trail for hikers and equestrians forever.”

Prominent among those who have nurtured the Trail over the years are:

Henry Woolman, president for 17 years; Charles Hazlehurst, trails chairman for 19 years and president for 8 years; William Nelson West III, treasurer for 32 years; James C. Charlesworth, trails chairman for 7 years and president for 2 years; John A. Goff, trails chairman for 8 years; John T. Brackin, Jr., trails chairman for 11 years; Margie Chalfant, daughter of Charles Hazlehurst, promoting the Trail for a lifetime; Robert Chalfont, treasurer-secretary for 7 years; Mary Bleecker, vice-president for 5 years and president for 2 years; Charles Wolfinger, director who chaired the National Park Service study and who did extensive negotiations with landowners to preserve the Trail; Marlin Kemmerer, long-time Conservancy member, who designed and installed cable bridges along the Trail; Ruby Horwood, long-time club member and trails champion, who served as treasurer, secretary, president and vice-president over the course of 50 years; Bob Hendricks,  trails chair for 9 years, and section maintainer for over 30 years; Fred Otte, club president during a time of significant Trail relocations due to development; Rick Maerker, editor of the BLAZE and guide books in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Marty Quigley, secretary for 10 years, maintainer and blazer for 25; Shethra Rigg, and Don Kirkland, trail co-chairs for 10 years; Phil Schmidt, 14 years on the board, who served as vice-president, treasurer and secretary, and designed and painted the first Horse-Shoe Trail posts.

The Trail was first plotted in 1947 on USGS 15 Minute Series, by William Nelson West III.  Later they were revised by Ralph Preston and John Thomas.  In 1969, the maps were corrected by Cornelia Polotnik Pruitt and daughter using USGS 7.5 Minute Series maps.  Robert Rigg made further revisions.  In the 1970s, Richard Harris developed the maps used through 2006.  Fred Otte rewrote the text and updated the maps in 1989 and kept both current through 1995. Rick Maerker, Shethra Rigg and Don Kirkland revised the maps until 2006. In 2011, Michael Stevens, Kent Wagner and Jamey Hutchinson created the new GIS (digital) maps and directions.