www.patc.net
  https://sites.google.com/site/cadillaccrewreg/home
 

 Timeline Leadership 
 1994-1997 Don White
 1998-2002 Trudy Thompson, Fran Keenan, Jon & Katherine Rindt
 2003-4/2012 Jon & Katherine Rindt
 5/2012-8/2016 Steering Committee Chaired by John Corwith
 9/2016-present Kirsten Elowsky


Contact Us

CadillacCrew@patc.net

 

Cadillac Crew Work Trips

Unlike some other PATC work crews that maintain specific trails, the Cadillac Crew is a roving trail crew that goes wherever trail work is needed. Throughout the year, crew leaders solicit input from trail overseers to see where the crew can help out. This provides a variety of work and work locations to crew members. The crew works the 4th weekend of most months with some adjustment for the holidays, January weather, and football.

Work trips officially start at 9:30 am on the Saturday of the trip but often facilities are available for crew members to arrive on Friday night. The latter is true especially when work trips involve PATC cabins. The crew works hard on Saturday, stopping between 3:30-6 (depending on the work and who is leading) and then hold a happy hour, a potluck dinner and camp out in tents, stay at a cabin or members house. Sunday morning there's a potluck breakfast, and work or hike. It is a very social work crew!

The crew works on cabins as well as trails, three to five times a year the crew stays at one of PATC's cabins and does both trail work and cabin maintenance. The crew has recently built two 40' fiberglass bridges across Sleepy Creek in WV and partnered with the Blue and White crew to build stone steps along the A.T. in Harpers Ferry WV.

Until recently, legend had it that the crew got it's name from the fact that "we build trails so nice you can drive a Cadillac over them" or by "building trails wide enough to drive a Cadillac." The real story can be found further down on this page.

The Status Quo

Under the influence of his lovely wife who got him involved in the Cadillac Crew, the crew is currently being led by a Steering Committee chaired by John Corwith.

In June 2011, no one stepped up to the challenge of command after then current leaders Jon and Kathrine Rindt announced they would retire from leadership at the end of the year. During a work trip in that same month in a discussion with crew regulars, John Corwith suggested the formation of the Cadillac Crew steering committee to take over. The idea was that a core group of regular members take on leading work trips on a rotating basis. The idea generated mixed responses, there was much concern over "leadership by committee."

The result has been the successful continuation of the Cadillac Crew; Steering Committee members John Spies, Keith Tondrick, Bruce Agnew and Kirsten Elowsky rotate work trip responsibility with John Corwith, who also maintains this web site and all the on-line tools that support the crew. Thankfully, Steve Barber has taken over storage and maintenance of the crew's tools.

In the Words of Don White

In January of 2014 an effort was made to document the very beginnings of the Cadillac Crew. The first Cadillac Crew leader Don White, authored the following history of the crew. His narrative provides the insights of where the Cadillac Crew's ethics of working hard and eating till bursting came from. (Note that this was a brain dump on Don's part and it was received Jan 7, 2014 at 2:27 AM. It did not go thru editorial review, please don't read anything unintentional into any of his comments).

How Things Began

The Cadillac Crew formed accidentally; quite accidentally, actually. Following my two-year tenure as Supervisor of Trails, my successor, Andy Hiltz, asked me in January 1994 to continue and complete the A.T. relocation by Route 725 in Northern Virginia. I called some of my friends and PATC colleagues to help, and got to work on what turned out to be the coldest day of the year (in February, I believe). We did not get a lot done and what we did we had to re-do in the spring. So, I learned a lesson. As we kept going, I arranged for those who wanted to stay overnight to use what was then the Northern Virginia Trail Center (now removed). Some camped outside, some bunked inside. All made use of the shower and we grilled often on the concrete porch below or the deck above.

Naming the Crew 

Phil Barringer, who served more than once as PATC president, was the overseer for the A.T. section from Route 55 to Manassas Gap Shelter, so this was his section. Phil, being somewhat elderly, did not come out and work with us. He kept calling me, though, about our progress - the new section involved a lot of sidehill, some turnpiking, and such.
 
As we kept working, more and more people joined us based on the ads I posted in the PA - I scheduled two trips per month. (Remember that the PATC was not online at that time.) As the core group jelled, some started talking about a name for what was becoming a crew (the Blue & White Team and South Mountaineers already existed, as did the Massarock and Shenandoah summer crews). My choice was "F Troop" and Tom Tamburo suggested "White's Wrecking Crew," amongst other purported "names."
 
About this time, Phil called me and asked if we would just open the trail by blazing it and come back later to do the side hill. (He was increasingly concerned about the advent of the "Thru-Hiker Season.") I assured him that we would be finished before that vaguely recognized season arrived, but he complained: "Don, you're building this to Cadillac standards!" I'd never heard this reference, ever.
 
In any case, when I told the crew this story, they started calling themselves The Cadillac Crew. No one in the crew owned or drove a Cadillac, however.
 
Near the top of the land on this relocation, we dug out a short side trail to the open meadow looking south into Shenandoah National Park. I bought a wrought-iron "love seat" and we anchored it there and placed a sign marking the viewpoint as "Barringer Point." Phil was surprised and happy with this honor; I think the seat was stolen some years later, but not while Phil still lived. The stepping stones in the creek just below the current bridge by the parking area on Route 725 were placed by Heidi Forrest and Dave Pugh long before the PATC Shelter Crew came in and built the bridge.


Barking Dog Spring

We finished that relocation in May 1994. Andy next asked me to finish another relocation begun during my tenure as SoT - that being the one leading from above Barking Dog Spring below Tom Floyd Shelter to connect with the A.T. by the National 4H Center south of Chester Gap and east of Front Royal, VA. I made arrangements for us to stay overnight at the 4H Center on work-trip weekends. We ate in town - the crew often met at the Knotty Pine Restaurant on Route 340 for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Sometimes, a bunch of us would go to Main Street and watch a movie (I saw "Groundhog Day" there one weekend).

The Christmas Party

I started this in 1994 by renting Highacre House over the first weekend in December for a crew Christmas Party. A few of us - Tom Tamburo, Pat Fankhauser, Heidi Forrest, Ed Carter, and me - came out Friday night and decorated the house (Pat brought out the decorations for the house). I told the others to come out when they wished on Saturday; we'd feast Sunday afternoon. That year, I think perhaps 35 people came out. People slept everywhere; I slept outside on the porch, as did a couple of others whose sleeping bags permitted them to do so. Crew members, spouses or significant others (but not both at the same time!), and family members (sons, daughters, canines) came in and then grouped themselves to walk around town - it happened that was the town's holiday celebration weekend (fortuitous!!). Saturday evening, some of us went out and found a nice tavern in Charles Town and had a good time before returning and turning in.
 
On Sunday, the big dining table in the dining room was stacked so with food that I thought it would collapse! I'd backed two turkeys and a turkey breast earlier; there being one oven, scheduling had to be set. We heated the cooked turkeys before setting them out with the casseroles and vegetables and breads and God knows what else. Oddly, there was not a lot of leftovers to take home, as I recall.

T-Shirts

https://sites.google.com/site/cadillaccrewreg/home/about/old%20cadillac%20crew%20tee%20blowup.jpg?attredirects=0
I had ordered T-shirts from Aerie Designs in Asheville, NC - the owner had been recommended to me by Morgan Somerville, the ATC Southern Regional Director. The company owner, James Wilson, and I hit it off right from the start - via phone calls. James had a design he'd used for the Nantahala Outdoor Club and he revised it for the Cadillac Crew. This shows figures with tools in an old Cadillac on a trail (the original artwork had the vehicle in a river with figures swinging paddles). Along with the Crew name and the year, this became our shirt. I ordered enough for every crew member and gave them out at the party.

Webmaster's Note: While plenty of women participated in early crew work-trips, female representation on the crew tees was lacking. (Click to enlarge.) This was acknowledged in 2008 and corrective action was taken the very next time tees were ordered.
 

Excursions

Beginning in 1996, I rented Conley Cabin in late October for a Halloween Party. Almost as many people came out for that event as for the Christmas Party. At least twice, I rented Mutton Top Cabin for a summer picnic. We had up to 22 for these excursions; people went off on hikes up over Snow Mountain to High Top and down to Skyline Drive (where someone would meet them and bring them back to the Vining Tract). We continued this each year, I felt the crew was due some much needed R&R after putting in their time and efforts to build superb tread all year long. I paid for the rentals and never asked for money from the crew.

Safety

Speaking of safety helmets, I suppose this is one thing for which I became known, for good or not. The fact is, that one of our new crew members was struck in the head by a rock tossed downhill by a person who was digging dirt out of a downed tree's root ball. It was an accident, but the young woman was knocked down and, because the cut was inside her hairline, it bled profusely. She recovered, albeit with a real headache (fortunately, two RNs were on the crew that day in Cabin John). I swore that no one would get hurt again for lack of safety equipment, and I stuck to that rule. The only person I'd excuse from it was me, if I didn't have enough helmets to go around for all others. I don't apologize for this; the safety of those on the crew was my responsibility and I would not shirk it.

Conclusion 

My father suffered a stroke in November 1997. Following our Christmas Party, I moved to Atlanta to manage his care and business affairs. That ended my association with the Cadillac Crew. Tom Tamburo was to lead the crew, but I believe he and Fran Keenan had some issues, so Tom left. When I returned to the metro DC area in 1999, I stopped by to work with the Crew one last time on Shockeys Knob, mainly for nostalgia and to meet old friends. I never intended to become the crew leader again; far too much had happened and change is inevitable.

The thing I recall most fondly of the crew is that, regardless of who was out on which trip, everyone just pitched in. I never had to cajole anyone - other than a very few whom I had to almost force to wear safety helmets. Even that was not a problem, in my opinion. No fights, no tantrums, nothing like that. No drunkenness, either.

I am proud of the crew whom I knew and happy that the crew continues. I wish you all the best as you take on this mantle!
 
Sincerely,
 
Don White
Jan 7, 2014
More Cadillac Crew history from Don