The Story of Appalachia Journal

Appalachia  is a journal of mountaineering, wilderness adventure, and the environment, published by the Appalachian Mountain Club of Boston. It was founded in 1876 early in the national outdoor recreation boom in the United States. Climbers and walkers were then exploring mountains (some of them unnamed on maps), building trails, and establishing campsites in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Canadian Rockies, and elsewhere. Many of Appalachia’s early editors and writers were academics. Charles E. Fay, a professor of modern languages and later graduate school dean at Tufts University, helped found the journal and became its editor in 1879, holding that post for 44 years. A peak in the Bow Range near Alberta, Canada, was named Mount Fay after him in 1904.

Appalachia doubled as the publication of the American Alpine Club from its early years until 1929. After then, freed from the responsibility of publishing every climbing report, Appalachia published more feature articles. Two influential editors were mountaineers Robert Underhill (editor from 1928 through 1934) and Miriam O’Brien Underhill (editor from 1956–1961 and 1968); the two met climbing and were married in 1932.

Climbers, writers, and homesteaders Guy Waterman and Laura Waterman, whose papers are housed in the Dartmouth Library, have been frequent contributors. After Guy Waterman’s death in 2000, Laura Waterman has continued publishing pieces in Appalachia on mountain conservation, history, and her own experiences.

Appalachia runs a wilderness essay contest for emerging writers, which is sponsored by the Waterman Fund. In 2017, the first decade of notable writing from that contest appeared in book form as New Wilderness Voices: Collected Essays from the Waterman Fund Contest, published by the University Press of New England.