Harvey Broome

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Harvey Broome, revered for his conservation work in the Smoky Mountains, was president of The Wilderness Society for nine years.

Broome worked closely with Executive Director Howard Zahniser to persuade Congress to create the National Wilderness Preservation System.  That finally happened in 1964 when Congress passed the Wilderness Act.  Broome stood proudly with other conservationists to watch President Lyndon Johnson sign this important bill into law.

“Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.” –Harvey Broome

Early Life

Born in 1902, Harvey Benjamin Broome grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He spent much of his time at his grandfather's farm, which was 40 miles north of the Smoky Mountains.  There, he developed his deep love of the natural world.  After graduating from Knoxville High School in 1919, Broome attended the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1923.

Three years later, he earned a law degree from Harvard University.  He began his career as a law clerk and eventually became a lawyer with an Oak Ridge firm.  However, the demands of his profession limited the time he could spend outdoors, so Broome left the firm to become a clerk again.

Saving The Smokies

Broome served as the long-time president of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club.  Over the years, he hiked most of the mountains and hollows and fought hard to prevent inappropriate development in the Smokies.  Many of his hiking trips were in the company of his wife Anna, with whom he shared a cabin in the Smokies.

In October 1966, he organized the "Save Our Smokies" hike, which has been credited with preventing construction of a road across the Smokies from Bryson City, North Carolina to Townsend, Tennessee.


In addition to serving as president of The Wilderness Society from 1957-1968, Broome had leadership roles in several other conservation organizations, including the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association.  His skilled writings appeared in three books published after his death: “Out Under the Skies in the Great Smoky Mountains,” “Faces of the Wilderness” and “Harvey Broome: Earth Man.”