a long road -- no matter how you look at it! For Hiker Emma Gatewood
it was more than 2,000 miles; for Eden Valley and FilmAffects it was
more than two years.
May of 2009 the Buckeye Trail Association wanted to put together a
presentation for its 50th Anniversary. They contacted Eden Valley
to provide the narration for their program which mentioned that one
of their founders, Emma Gatewood, had been the first woman to hike
the Appalachian trail alone -- at the ripe old age of 67! This footnote
in the BTA story intrigued me and I contacted then-BTA Board Member
Liz McQuaid -- Who IS this Emma Gatewood person anyway?
So began Eden Valleys search for Emma Gatewood.
put me in touch with Emmas youngest daughter, Lucy Seeds, who
provided some interesting background information about the remarkable
Ohioan -- after raising 11 children and a divorce from an abusive
husband, Emma set off on the Appalachian Trail after reading a National
Geographic article saying that no woman had ever thru-hiked the
Trail alone. It was just the kind of challenge that Emma enjoyed and
so she set out to be that woman.
the time I only planned to include Emmas story as one of the
many tales of wonderful women spotlighted in EVEs program, WHATS
HER STORY? But Lucy mentioned that she was interested in publishing
Emmas diaries and she thought a film would be a great idea,
so I told Lucy Id check around to see if I could help her find
a publisher or put her in touch with someone to do a film.
of the first people I contacted was FilmAffects
producer, Peter Huston. Peter, too, was intrigued by Emmas story.
And so the plan began... A storytelling program devoted to Emma, a
first-person character program, a documentary for DVD and PBS.
February, 2010 Peter and I began to work on getting a planning grant
from the Ohio
Humanities Council. By April, I had applied to the National
Storytelling Network for a grant to do a storytelling program
(this was approved in June, 2010).
Fall the planning grant from the Ohio Humanities Council was approved.
In December, 2010 the Buckeye
Trail Association made a grant to help with matching funds for
the Ohio Humanities Council Grant. These two grants would provide
funds for research and planning to determine what materials were available
for Phase 2 -- the first-person character program and the video documentary.
They paid for trips to visit daughter Lucy Seeds in Florida and Great
Granddaughter Marjorie Wood in Gallipolis, Ohio to allow us to get
filmed interviews and pictures about Emma and her life.
completed the planning, we were now ready to raise funds to create
the first-person character program and the video documentary.
In the meantime, Kelly
Boyer Sagert has been busy writing the script for the storytelling
program. The Westlake Community Center presented the first
performance on November 1, 2011 for their Senior group.
and 2013 kept us busy fundraising as we continued researching (including
meeting and talking to various family members) and writing. We had
our first filming in April of 2012 with Judy MacKeigan as Emma.
February of 2013 we received a generous $15,000 grant from the Ohio
next milestone came in August of 2013 when we premiered our one-act
Gatewood: Are You Out Of Your Bloomin' Mind?! (An Appalachian Tale)
(originally titled "Trail Magic") about her at TrueNorth
in Sheffield Village. Starring Anne McEvoy as Grandma Gatewood and
Kathie Dice as Emily Watson, the play was presented to two sold-out
came the actual filming of the documentary. Using the the script from
the play as the core of the documentary, Anne reprised her role as
Grandma for the film. Director Peter Huston conducted interviews with
other AT-hikers, Appalachian Trail Conservancy employees and historians
to finish the film for a premier in May, 2015. Trail
Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story was presented at TrueNorth
during a two-day event which included a presentation of the storytelling
program and two performances of the film -- a complete Red Carpet
-- six years from first meeting Grandma Gatewood, EVE
and FilmAffects completed its goal of documenting the life of this
feisty female. Well, sort of...
the documentary, TRAIL MAGIC: THE GRANDMA GATEWOOD STORY premiered
on PBS station WUOB we have continued to "take our show on the
road". In 2016, more than 2,500
people saw one of 37 presentations of
our Grandma Gatewood programs! (If you'd like to host one of
these programs, just send us an e-mail!)
We also continue with our fundraising activities to cover past filming
expenses and additional costs for presentation on PBS and eventual
creation of DVDs of the documentary which will be available for sale.
you would like to support this project with a tax-deductible donation,
you can send a check made payable to Eden Valley Enterprises;
1250 East River St., Elyria, Ohio 44035 (download
a convenient PDF form) or pay online with PayPal by pressing
the "Donate" button at the bottom of this page. (As
a not-for-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) or the Internal
Revenue Code, all donations are tax-deductible. You will receive
an acknowledgment for tax purposes.)
exciting of all, in April, 2017 we were notified that TRAIL MAGIC
had been nominated for a Regional National
Association of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Emmy Award in
the Best Documentary, Historical category.
the meantime, Kelly, Peter and I hope to see you at one of our performances
in the near future to introduce you to this truly Remarkable Ohioan!
in case you think that walking the 2, 178 miles of The Appalachian
Trail THREE times is more than enough to put Emma in the ranks of
Amazing Americans, consider these facts:
was one of 15 children of Esther Evelyn Trowbridge and Hugh Wilson
Caldwell. She often acted as mother to the younger children.
and her husband, Perry, had 11 children.
1958 she climbed the six highest peaks of the Adirondack Mountains
in New York.
1959 she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail in honor of Oregons
was one of the founders of the Buckeye Trail Association and was
elected to the board of directors and served through April, 1969.
Buckeye Trail Association named a section of the Trail in Hocking
Hills after her.
1955 and 1969 she hiked ten thousand miles!
for joining us on our trail!
¡ Bette Lou !
I wish to thank all of Emma's family who have spent time talking to
us about her and her life and sharing their pictures and other memorabilia
with us especially Lucy Seeds, Lillian Gatewood Sullivan, Marjorie
Wood and Nelson Gatewood. All of her family members have been wonderful
and we are very grateful!
We couldn't have done it without our donors
-- a BIG Thank You to our company donors and our Grandma Gatewood
progress report was last updated on June 13, 2017
us on Facebook!