Appalachian Unsolved: Trenny Gibson, Lost in the Smokies

High school girls don’t just vanish in a national park, never to be found again. Unless you’re Trenny Gibson of Knoxville, TN. Hiking in the Smokies one minute. Nowhere to be found the next.

That’s all anyone knows about the last moments of 16-year-old Trenny Gibson. Where she ended up – fatally injured in a fall, taken by a kidnapper, whisked away by a friend – is anyone’s guess.

“It’s weird when something like that happens at that age,” her classmate and friend said. “It’s not necessarily that she’s dead. There’s no definite answer.”

Gibson went on a field trip Oct. 8, 1976, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a group of about 35 classmates from Bearden High School. A bus dropped them off that Friday afternoon at Clingmans Dome, one of the most visited spots in the Smokies.

The students were to hike down from Clingmans on the Forney Ridge Trail about 1.8 miles to Andrews Bald and then come back. Not that long really. But there were some steep dropoffs on the side.

Reports indicate Trenny was with a couple friends who stopped to rest along the trail. She went on. And then she disappeared completely.

“They were worried about her,” said Dwight McCarter, a lifelong East Tennessean and retired ranger in the national park who helped hunt for Trenny. “They couldn’t figure out what happened to her.”

A search began that afternoon, but it yielded no clues. Foggy, rainy weather hampered efforts to track her.

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More here about mysterious Smokies disappearances…


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