Albert “Dutch” Roth lived from 1890 to 1974, and left an astonishing collection of amateur photographs which document the early years of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Roth’s photos and journal of his hiking adventures offer a rare and intimate view of the Smokies from the 1920s through the 1950s. Up to 1958 Dutch had climbed every Smoky Mountains peak and been up Mt. LeConte about 90 times, covering every trail several times and sometimes hiking without a trail, straight up the mountain.
Harvey Broome characterized Roth as “a pint-sized juggernaut in human form who was oblivious of fatigue, weather, thicket, or steep, and who went climbing with me when no one else would go.”
I feel a special attachment to Dutch Roth, having spent some time restoring many of his photographs for a collection that hangs in the University of Tennessee Libraries. Working up close, examining every small detail of his images, caused me to feel his deep love and respect for these Smoky Mountains. In fact, the spirit I found in these old photographs had a big impact on my own life and photography.
Occasionally, Dutch will make an appearance on these blog pages, with pictures and quotes from his journal. I hope you enjoy his presence as much as I do.
Images and writings from the Roth Collection are used with permission of The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Collection, University of Tennessee Libraries