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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amateurs Can Recieve Aclaim

Here is another unsung Photographer story from the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine.

Dutch Roth was an amateur photographer, trail planner, hiker, and naturalist-an amateur all the way around. We think of an amateur as someone who is not too good at something - not a professional. Of course, the word amateur means one who does something for the love of it, from the Latin "amo" to love. Dutch Roth was an amateur in the best sense of the word.

Albert Gordon "Dutch" Roth was born in Knoxville on October 20, 1890. He grew up with the impressive out lines of Mt. LeConte, Clingmans Dome, and other Smokies peaks in the distant horizon. Dutch, a pipe fitter for Southern Railway, began hiking in 1913 but became a serious hiker in the 1920s.

Roth met with Carlos Campbell of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to found the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club in October, 1924. With him were George Barber, Charlie Barber, Guy Frizzel, and well-known photographer, Jim Thompson. Dutch led the first official club hike on December 11. A group of eight people drove to Gatlinburg, spent the night at the Mountain View Hotel, and got an early start the next morning to climb Mt. LeConte. Poor roads in the area and no roads in the Smokies caused most of the early hikes to take two or more days to complete.

In 1927, Dutch received an award from the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club for being the only person to have walked every club-sponsored hike since the club's formation. He made 69 hikes from 1924 to 1929. Often when hikes were being planned, the question was asked, "Who is going on this one besides Dutch?"

In the 30-year period from 1924 to 1954, Dutch made 728 hikes. His all time high for the number of hikes in a single year was 1933 when he made 47 hikes covering 290.2 miles. Dutch was not a fair-weather hiker. Rain, sleet, snow, storm, heat - any day was a good day to hike.

During one of his many hikes to Mt. LeConte, Roth and friends climbed through snow and ice on New Year's Eve, 1927, with scientists from a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that had just met in Nashville. Park supporters had invited the scientists in hopes of gaining their enthusiasm for the idea of establishing a national park in the Smokies and of getting an article included in National Geographic.

Dutch Roth takes mileage data on Charles Bunion in the Great Smoky Mountains.

As Carlos Campbell told the story, when the group started in Cherokee Orchard it was a mild 40-degree winter day. While the group walked past Rainbow Falls and Rocky Spur to the primitive LeConte Lodge run by Paul Adams, the temperature dropped steadily all day and it began to snow.

Dr. George Nichols, a Yale University botanist, was heard to say while struggling over the icy trail and rocks, "This will be a wonderful memory, but I'll be darned glad when it is a memory!" The group finally reached the small log cabin that had a dirt floor and fir boughs on wooden bunks for "comfortable" sleeping. That night the mercury dipped to 20 below zero (a 60 degree change in less than 24 hours!) and the hikers stayed up all night feed¬ing the fire, singing, telling stories, feeding the fire, composing limericks, and feeding the fire.

All laughed the next morning when someone attempted to get a drink from the bucket of water sitting by the fire place, only to struggle with the dipper that was frozen solid in the ice. Before dawn on the first day of 1928, the group negotiated the slick trail over
High Top to Myrtle Point for a sunrise view in extreme cold. Dutch attempted to photograph the winter wonderland. When he removed his glove to take pictures, one of his fingers froze. A fellow hiker's ear froze while on the trip.

In addition to hiking, another of Dutch's interests and passions was photography. He usually carried a heavy tripod and a Kodak 122 camera that used 4 x 6 inch negatives. Roth's friend and hiking companion, Jim Thompson, a professional photographer, had photographed the mountains for clients such as Champion Fibre Company, who owned thousands of acres of the Smokies including Mt. LeConte.

The top Landscape is the Appalachian Trail east of Newfound Gap looking west. The bottom picture: the group on the goodwill tour between Tennessee and North Carolina are seen at the surveyor's tower on Clingmans Dome.

Thompson became the official photographer for the Smoky Mountain Conservation Association, the Tennessee group working to establish a national park in the Smokies. Many credit Thompson's photos, as well as those of George Masa of North Carolina, with convincing the original committee to consider the Smokies for National Park status.
Dutch Roth accompanied Thompson and took pictures alongside him. Very often Dutch climbed trees, scrambled through underbrush, or scaled cliffs to get the perfect vantage point. Sometimes, when Thompson was getting the money shot, Roth would back up and take a picture of the people who were present on the hike.

Members of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, including Roth, worked tirelessly in the movement to establish a national park in the Smokies. As a very active part of the club, Dutch hiked with many national figures to convince them of the worthiness of the area. Arno Cammerer, assistant director of the National Park Service, went with members of the hiking club to Mt. LeConte in August, 1925. Only a month later, Roth and others walked with Robert Sterling Yard of the National Parks Association.

The list of people Roth hiked with is a veritable "Who's Who" of the park movement-David Chapman, Willis and Ann Davis, Horace Kephart, Ben Morton. Whether it was dignitaries from Washington and Nashville-or his wife and two children, Roth loved hiking and photographing in the mountains.

Another example of Dutch's participation in the efforts to establish the park is the Goodwill Hike of June 8-9, 1929. The Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Asheville Times sent representatives to stand on the state line at Clingmans Dome to exchange greetings and letters from the governors of North Carolina and Tennessee. Lee Davis, a News¬Sentinel reporter, wrote, "For hours we climbed the damp trail, over rocks and streams and past banks of rhododendron and dazzling falls, canteens rattling and packs creaking. Then as we topped the last steep rise, the U.S. Geological tower broke thru the mists into our view, marking the mountain top."

Above: Gatlinburg in the 1920s. Mt. LeConte is in the background. Below:Benton MacKaye on the Appalachian Trail near Newfound Gap.

The two groups stood on either side of the border delineating the two states and exchanged greetings, hand¬shakes, and letters from the respective state chief executives, Governor Henry H. Horton of Tennessee and Governor O. Max Gardner of North Carolina. After the ceremonies, and the numerous pictures taken by the newspaper photographers and Dutch Roth, a carrier pigeon with a message about the event was released to carry the news back to Asheville.
The day was a long one. The Tennessee group walked up from Gatlinburg and back down for a total of 24 miles!

In addition to the park movement, Roth and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club also played a role in establishing the Appalachian Trail in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Roth walked with Benton MacKaye, the originator of the idea for the Appalachian Trail, and Myron Avery, who helped the trail become a reality on the land¬scape. Dutch and Thompson, along with countless others of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, marked, measured, graded, and cleared the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies.

One of Dutch's most interesting hiking companions and photo subjects is Harvey Broome, a founder and president of the Wilderness Society. Broome's writings and advocacy for wild places contributed to the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Dutch's hikes were not confined to the Smokies. He hiked and photographed Roan Mountain, Cumberland Falls, the Cumberland Plateau, Frozen Head, Fall Creek Falls, Joyce Kilmer, House Mountain, Clinch Mountain, Pickett, and Cumberland Gap. His photos document many Tennessee State Parks in their earliest stages.
Roth had a wonderful eye for more than the scenic vistas of the Smokies. He caught the intricate beauty of wildflowers, the flow of waterfalls, the folds of rock strata, the people and buildings of the area before it became a park, and the smiles of family and friends.

Roth retired from Southern Railway in July, 1959, and then moved to his "dream home" in Emerts Cove between Gatlinburg and Cosby the next year. He described that relocation as going into "God's Country." Roth died in 1974 at the age of 84, but his adventures live on at the University of Tennessee Digital Collection where his photographs can be accessed via the Digital Library of the University of Tennessee at dlc/digcoll.

We salute an unsung hero - Albert Gordon "Dutch" Roth - amateur - a lover of the outdoors, a lover of the Smokies, a lover of hiking, a lover of photography, a lover of family and friends - a true amateur who did it all for the love of it.

(Known for his love of hiking, Charles Maynard of Jonesborough is the author of the books Waterfalls of the Smokies and Churches of the Smokies as well as 22 children's non-fiction books on American history.)

In Hutch Roth's own words
Leap Year
On February 29 1948, the club had a Mystery hike. It being Leap Year, all the bachelor and young maids had a special invitation to make the trip. It turned out to be up Walker Prong to Jump-Off.

We met at Trailways Bus Station early Sunday morning. We had a special bus driven by one of the bosses. He was short, fat and kind of quiet. We sang and had a big time going up. When we left Pigeon Forge and started around the mountain toward Gatlinburg, the driver said that he would have to stop in Gatlinburg a while so that he could get a tire fixed. We didn't know it, but we were driving on a flat tire.

So we stopped in Gatlinburg and got it fixed. While they were fixing it, we all got off and stretched. One of the girls made the mistake of taking off one of her shoes. Some of the boys got it and played ball with it there on the Main Street. It was early and most of the people there were still asleep.

After about an hour, we were ready to leave again we still didn't know where we were going. It wasn't until the driver stopped that we knew where it was. All except about three got out and hiked up Walker Prong, the rest rode on up to Newfound Cap and hiked out to Jump-Off by the trail and met us there. The bus stayed at the Gap.

My daughter arc{ the ones who hiked the three miles out the trail got there first. We lad little or no trail most of the way and some got lost. When we got there, most of them had already had lunch, except my daughter, and she had to wait on me because I had the pack with the food in it with me. We took pictures and sat around and rested a while. Thai we came back by the trail to Newfound Gap.

Later when we got to the bus and were waiting on some of their, one of the girls started kidding the bachelors and on a dare kissed one of them, then after we all got on the bus and was coming down the mountain, some of the rest of them took it up and by the, time that we got back to town I think that every man on the bus had been kissed - including a big lip smear on the driver's fore head. I think he really enjoyed it. just about of the girls had been in on the act. As we can into Knoxville someone thought about the lipstick and you should have seen the men wiping it off. The driver got his off coming across the Henley Street Bridge. That was really a good trip. We don't get to have many hikes on the 29th of February.

1 comment:

  1. Being a professional just means you get paid to do it. It has nothing to do with ability and talent. Good article about a good man.