An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
Part 1 of this history of the 1980s covered the Appalachian Trail related activities of the club. This part will concentrate on the club's non-AT events.
With the development of new hiking trails and the opening of rail-trails in the Commonwealth, the club schedule included hikes to a broader variety of destinations, such as the Conestoga, Pinchot, Old Loggers Path, Nor-Bath, and Lehigh Canal trails. A group of dedicated backpackers offered monthly overnight trips. Several popular events, such as the December Christmas City trek, Assateaque backpacks, and outings to Dixon Miller's fire tower, became annual events.
Recaps of hikes in the Happy Hiker indicate that leaders could often count on a large group of 20 or more participants for day hikes. One Lehigh Gap Appalachian Trail outing drew 50 hikers.
To cultivate and encourage new leaders for these many activities, the club held a new leader training workshop in 1981. In 1984, a yearly recap showed that the club conducted 59 hikes and 11 backpack trips.
In addition to the monthly Wednesday business meetings, the club held monthly Saturday night slide nights at the Pioneer Center. Other social events included hayrides, picnics, and an annual banquet. The 1981 banquet celebrated AHC's 50th anniversary. The 1983 event, which featured Cindy Ross' Appalachian Trail slide show, drew 98 attendees. In 1984, President Sam Carlson began the custom of writing a presidential message for the first page of the Happy Hiker, and in 1986, the newsletter printed its first picture. To satisfy the needs of a diverse membership, the newsletter featured columns for beginners (new hikers), backpackers, and a first aid column.
In 1986, as a public service, club members painted the interior of the Pioneer Center (owned by the City of Allentown and used as a meeting location by various groups, including AHC). So many volunteers showed up that the work was completed by noon. That same year, AHC members volunteered to answer the phones during a WLTV pledge drive.
From its inception, women were elected to serve as club vice-president, secretary and treasurer. However, it was not until the 1980s that AHC elected its first female president - Carol Rigler in 1980 and 1981. To the great sorrow of the club, Carol died of cancer less than 13 months after here second term ended.
Two other women followed Carol during this decade: Jean Jones in 1983 and Ginny Musser in 1986 and 1987. Bill Sandt, Sam Carlson, and Mike Wuerstle complete the list of presidents during the 1980s.
It was in this decade (1989) that Maryann Wagner was first elected treasurer. Her 19 years of service (and counting) in this position is the longest tenure of any individual in club history. Coupled with her five years as secretary (1979-1984), Maryann has compiled an impressive record of dedication to the Allentown Hiking Club.