The 40th Anniversary of the Mason-Dixon Trail System is coming up in 2019.
While it may be a bit early to start celebrating that event I wanted to try
and gather as much information about the history of the Mason-Dixon Trail as
I could. So I sat down recently with Ron Gray, one of the early members of
the M-DTS, to pick his brain about the early days of this organization.
The second edition M-DTS map set was printed sometime in the early 1990's. This was the edition that this author bought when I led a hike from Lock 12 to Kohler RD in 1996 with another hiking club. The cover sheet that was utilized carries over to the 2016 map set that we just released. The descriptions and maps were on the same page. Originally, Ron said that he wanted to make the descriptions a black colored font and the trail itself in blue. When the maps came back from the printer they were a bluish-purple color entirely.
Next we started talking about the early newsletters of the club. Ron has just about all of them. We will try and get them all into the archives of this web site over the coming months. However, for now, we have one of the earliest newsletters from April 18, 1979. Unfortionately, the earliest newsletters were mostly just the minutes of a given meeting. The early meetings used to occur at the homes of various members. This meeting was held at Dick Tobias' house in Roherstown, PA. Everyone used to bring food and they had a meal either before or after the meeting.
Since the modern day M-DTS adopted a policy of not disclosing Personable Identifiable Information or PII on our web site, we do not show meeting minutes on our modern day newsletters. So in order to show this historic document online, we have had to redact one name in the document and not show the attendance sign in sheet as 2 of the members on that sheet are still
Finally, I asked Ron about certain individuals in the early M-DTS:
Robert Yost- He is considered the founder of this organization. There is an article that summarizes his story in the M-DTS October, 2011 Newsletter. Mr Yost would be compared to Benton MacKaye of Appalachian Trail history.
Dick Tobias- He was an architect, founder of the Conestoga Trail, president of the Lancaster Hiking Club and involved with the York Hiking Club. One could compare him to Myron Avery of Appalachian Trail history.
Turner Darden- One of the founders of the M-DTS. He was also the original Eastern Section Chairman.
Mary Bleeker- Mary was a past treasurer and was also involved with the Appalachian Trail. I remember writing many dues checks to Mary in the 1990's.
Yvonne Blades- Yvonne was very active in the club. She was a Delaware
Robert Bennett- Robert was an English Professor at the University of Delaware. His wife was an art major. He worked on the trail extensively in Delaware.
Rick Maerker- Was a past President and Treasurer of the M-DTS. Rick thru hiked the M-DT twice, the Appalachian Trail twice and was the first person to hike the Quadruple Crown: The Mason-Dixon, Brandywine and Horse-Shoe trails as well as 54 miles of the Appalachian Trail to form a 428 mile loop.
Dave Toland- The only original charter member of the M-DTS who is (as of 8-17-2016) still with us.
We hope to have more articles like this between now and our 40th Anniversary in 2019.
- Mike Calabrese