Collection Facts

Extent: 
862 items

Historical Context

Major William A. Welch served in a number of roles at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) between 1912 and 1940. He began as a junior engineer in the Palisades Interstate Park, NJ, assisting with drawing and plans primarily for the construction of park facilities and the Henry Hudson Drive. Around 1915, he took over responsibilities as Chief Park Engineer and General Manager, serving in this role until his retirement from the PIPC in 1940.

During his time at the PIPC, Major Welch was responsible for the design and construction of nearly all the parks’ major infrastructure, including all the park dams, Seven Lakes Drive, group camp buildings, the Bear Mountain Administration Building, park electrical and water systems, the Storm King Highway, the Popolopen Viaduct, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and more. He was the founder of the Palisades Trail Conference, which became the NY-NJ Trail Conference and helped design and build the first section of the Appalachian Trail and the Long Path. He served as mentor to the early National Park Service and drew the boundaries of Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks while advising park managers and developers in nearly every state in the US.

Major Welch is one of the most significant figures in US environmental and outdoor recreational history, yet very few people know his name.

Scope of Collection

This collection includes some of Major William A. Welch's papers, taken from a collection of some 50,000 documents he created during his time at PIPC. The papers are in the process of being catalogued and as more documents come to light, they will be added to this collection.