The following is reprinted from a report submitted to the club detailing the history of the Gren Anderson Shelter project.
The Gren Anderson Shelter
For many years one of the gaps in the chain of shelters along the Appalachian Trail, which are in theory spaced approximately one day’s foot travel apart, was In Stokes State Forest In New Jersey. The Green Mountain Club, as custodian of the Trail along the northern ridge of the Kittatinnies, had for some years been nurturing a plan to build a shelter in this locality, and finally, near the beginning of 1958, definite arrangements were set in train under the auspices of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
An agreement was reached with the authorities of Stokes Forest for the use of a site near a spring on the road between Culver Lake and Sunrise Mountain, in open front lean-to was decided upon, built of oak logs cut from standing trees at the site, the trees to be selected by the State Forest personnel. The Club was to contribute all other materials and labor, but upon completion the shelter would be some the property and responsibility of Stokes State forest.
The name “Gren Anderson Shelter” was selected as a fitting tribute to our much-loved president who had died the year before, while still in office. A fund-raising campaign was launched, and contributions were soon pouring in from club members and friends.
A total of about 260 was ultimately subscribed, which Proved to be an adequate sum to meet all expenses.
As the moving spirit of the entire enterprise, Sam Wilkinson made several early spring trips to the proposed area to negotiate with the State Forest authorities, scout the actual site, and make specific plans to exact location, access to the main trail, and the like. On one of the last of these trips, a substantial number of trees were felled to provide building material for the first working groups.
The official start of actual construction was scheduled In the Bulletin for the week end of April 19 – 20, 1958. On that Saturday, approximately thirty New York Section members reported for duty, and were without delay organized by Chief Engineer Harry Smith, to cinder blocks, sand, and cement from a roadside delivery point up the hill to the shelter site for use as foundation piers. Other immediate duties were locating and digging the holes for the piers, and starting to prepare logs from the felled trees.
This last task was to become, of course, the piece de resistance of the entire project; as work went on through the months it seemed that the capacity of a small structure to absorb tree trunks was insatiable. Each log had to be inspected to determine the most productive method of dismembering It into one or more lengths, as straight as possible, and suitable for a side log or a longer one for the rear wall, after this, minor branches were lopped flush with the trunk, and then -bark peeling. On a green tree, freshly cut, it was sometimes possible to lift off great sheets of bark with the prying motion of an axe, but far more often it seemed that a tree had reached an advanced stage of drying out. When this happened, painstaking -slow removal of narrow strips with a hatchet, axe, or draw-knife could consume an hour or more for a single length.
By the end of the first Sunday, several tiers of logs had been notched and laid, and there was no doubt that the shelter was truly under way, with an encouraging stockpile of stripped logs ready for the next session and one-day from this date on, weekend trips were arranged Informally whenever a worthwhile group (sometimes two people!) could be wheeled or cajoles into coming out.
As walls gradually inched higher, the effort Involved In raising the logs, usually green and slippery, Into position for repeated fitting, correspondingly increased. The trees were far from straight, and It was not unusual to spend an entire morning shaving down bulges and modifying notches on Just one or two logs- Even so, one-inch cracks (to be filled later by oakum and wood strips) were the rule rather than the exception.
By late June, roof rafters were going into place, and lumber was purchased that month for roof boards and flooring. Both of these, and composition shingles on the roof, were completed by the end of July. So, it began to look as If the Job might be finished by the end of summer, but this was not to be. Little was accomplished during August, with nearly everyone off on vacation, and the remaining “little jobs” – building a, latrine, trimming log-ends and chinking the spaces, fireplace- construction, and the addition of many frills such as a rain gutter, built-in table (plus a movable one), signs, and general tidying-up, – all these occupied the remaining available week ends right through October*.
A dedication ceremony had been scheduled for the 16 of November, and in spite of chill, dour November weather, over fifty members appeared to participate in the event. An advance party comprising a few of the principal constructors had occupied the shelter overnight, having spent the day before trail-clearing in the vicinity, and this group provided (from the shelter fund) coffee and doughnuts for after-ceremony refreshment.
Speakers on the occasion were president John Rohrbaugh and Sam Wilkinson for the Club, who outlined the background and history of the project, and formally turned the structure over to 3tokesState Forest, represented by Mr. Dryden Kuser and Mr. Harold Apler, who accepted the shelter on behalf of the Park. Mr. Kuser outlined some of the proposed future programs pertaining to outdoor recreation, particularly hiking and camping, in the area.
During president Rohrbaugh’ s address, he dwelt on the contributions of Gren Anderson to the Club, and the affection in which he was held by the members. Mrs. Emily Anderson was then asked to unveil the plaque on the rear wall of the shelter, which reads:
GREN ANDERSON SHELTER
built in 1958 by members of the New York Section of the Green Mountain
Club in memory of their president,1956-57,
under the sponsorship of the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference
Waypoint: GrenAnder 41.19948,-74.75264
County/State: Sussex NJ
Elevation: 1320′ or USGS elevation
1325.0 miles from Springer and 864.8 miles to Katahdin