Maine: An Encyclopedia

Avery, Myron

Avery Peak from West Peak, Bigelow

Avery Peak from West Peak, Bigelow

“Nail it up.” – M. Avery

Myron Haliburton Avery (1899-1952), born in Lubec, was a navy veteran of two world wars, and was awarded The Legion of Merit. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he practiced admiralty law with the Arthur Perkins firm in Hartford. Perkins was the first Appalachian Trail Conference chair and enlisted Avery, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, to assist in the trail-building project.

He measured the accurate length of the trail over sixteen years of hiking it with a measuring wheel completing the task in 1936. As Mark Warner notes, “When the terminus sign was put up on Katahdin, he made what may be the shortest dedication speech ever he recorded when he said, ‘Nail it up.'”

According to Bill Bryson,

. . . it was really Avery’s trail. He mapped it out, bullied and cajoled clubs into producing volunteer crews, and personally superintended the construction of hundreds of miles of path. He extended its planned length of 1,200 miles to well over 2,000, and before it was finished he had walked every inch of it. In under seven years, using volunteer labor, he built a 2,000 mile trail through mountain wilderness. Armies have done less.

Memorial to Myron Avery

Memorial to Myron Avery

Avery was the founding president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and he was the driving force in organizing many of the ATC clubs from Maine, clear to Georgia. Avery became chair of the ATC at age 31, a position he held until his death in 1952. Pushing his famous measuring wheel over miles of trail he had personally laid out, Avery was the first to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

He was the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s supervisor of trails from 1935 to 1949 and its president from 1949 to 1952, the year he died. Avery Peak on Bigelow Mountain was named in his honor.

Additional resources

Appalachian Trail Conference. Guide to the Appalachian Trail in Maine. (Compiled by Myron H. Avery.) Washington D.C. Appalachian Trail Conference. 1942.

Avery, Myron H. “Exploration.” 1928. URSUS NOTE: “Reprinted from Appalachia, Vol. XVII, No.2, December, 1928”

Avery, Myron H. The Artist of Katahdin: American Mountain Painters, III: Frederic Edwin Church, 1826-1900. URSUS NOTE: [Appalachia, between 1942 and 1945] Reprinted from: In the Maine woods, 1940, with some slight omissions, by courtesy of the author and of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad.

Avery, Myron H. Artists and Katahdin. Bangor, Me. Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Company. 1940.

Avery, Myron H. Avery papers. First series. 1930-1979. [Maine State Library. Avery Collection.]

Avery, Myron H. Mount Katahdin in Maine. Augusta, Me. Development Commission. 1935.

Bates, David. “Myron Avery: Portrait Of A President.” Potomac Appalachian Trail Club History. Accessed August 22, 2003.

Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. New York: Broadway Books. 1998. p. 29.

Maine State Library. “Index to Articles, Books and Manuscripts in the Myron Avery Collection.”  (Compiled by staff of the Maine State Library.) Augusta, Me. The Library. 1986.

Warner, Mark. The Appalachian Trail: An Aerial View.  Newcastle, Me. Warner Publishing, c2004. p. 111.

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