Appalachian Trail
MacKaye Benton
1879 - 1976

Benton MacKaye

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Benton MacKaye lived in Manhattan during his early years but spent most of his life in the New England village of Shirley Center, near Concord, Massachusetts. He completed his studies at Harvard University in 1905, with a B.A. and an M.A. in forestry, and also taught there for several years. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for thirteen years, beginning in its earliest days, and went on work for the U.S. Department of Labor after World War I and the Tennessee Valley Authority when it began in 1932. In each of these positions, he was a leading innovator in his approach to regional planning and balancing human needs with the conservation of natural resources. MacKaye helped pioneer the idea of land preservation for recreation and conservation purposes, and he was a strong advocate for locating development near appropriate natural resources, in keeping with Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City principles. In addition to writing one of the first arguments against urban sprawl, MacKaye authored two books, The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning and Expedition Nine: A Return to a Region. A co-founder of The Wilderness Society, he is best known as the originator of the Appalachian Trail.