Grandma Gatewood
Posted January 13, 2014
Topics: Natural History
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One of the most iconic figures in the world of hiking, not to mention a national symbol for overcoming adversity, is the amazing Emma "Grandma" Gatewood. From Gallipolis, Ohio she was the first woman to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. She hiked the entire 2,168 miles of the trail in 1955, and she did it by herself and at 67 years old. I have backpacked various sections of the trail in 5 states and have admiration for anyone who can do the entire trail in one stretch! Here's an excerpt about her from last Friday's OHS History e-news:

"A native of Gallipolis, Ohio, Gatewood had lived through the Depression and raised 11 children in an abusive marriage. Years after she'd divorced her husband and her children were grown, Gatewood read a story about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic that noted that only five men had hiked the entire trail by themselves, and that no woman had. It spurred her to grab her sneakers and strike out for the trail."

"After conquering the Appalachian Trail, she hiked it two more times, hiked the Oregon Trail and helped found the Buckeye Trail in Ohio. From age 67 until her death, she hiked more than 10,000 miles and became a symbol for overcoming adversity to achieve the seemingly impossible. To honor her achievements, in 2012 the Ohio General Assembly declared April 27 as Emma Grandma Gatewood Day. Grandma Gatewood's story is so remarkable that its inspired the folks at Eden Valley Enterprises in Elyria, Ohio, to make a documentary about her life."

To read more about her and how the Ohio History Fund helped make the documentary about her possible, visit Ohio History e-news at:

You can donate a portion of your state tax return to the Ohio History Fund to help this and other local history and preservation related projects in communities across the state.

Note that Emma Gatewood was one of the founders of the Buckeye Trail, a 1,444 mile trail that winds through Ohio and reaches every part of the state. The Buckeye Trail even goes through Fort Hill, an OHS site! And there is another tie to OHS: two of the former Curators of Natural History, Bill Schultz and Bob Glotzhober, are very active in the Buckeye Trail Association.

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