Trenny Lynn Gibson - Strange Disappearances from U.S. National Parks

Teresa "Trenny" Lynn Gibson, Disappeared October 8, 1976,Clingmans dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 

Trenny Lynn Gibson great smoky mountains disappearance

On October 8th, 197616 years old, Teresa  (known as"Trenny") Lynn Gibson went with 35-40 of her classmates from Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, on a field trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The students were hiking around 1.8 miles to Andrews Bald from Clingmans Dome and then back on the Forney Ridge Trail.

The group separated into small groups when they arrived at the trail depending on how fast they could walk. Despite there being such a large group, there was only one teacher supervising, in addition to the bus driver. According to some accounts, no one was informed by the school where they were going until they actually arrived or were on the way to the trailhead.

Clingmans Dome Great Smoky mountains map

Trenny hiked with several different sections of her classmates at different paces during the day. She was last seen at approximately 3:00 p.m. near Clingman's Dome, walking on a moderately steep trail with sharp drop-offs and dense undergrowth on both sides and she was said to have left the path to the right after spotting something. She was wearing a blue blouse, a blue and white striped sweater, a borrowed brown plaid heavy jacket, blue jeans, blue Adidas shoes and a diamond and star sapphire ring. Trenny was never seen again and her body never found.

Great smoky mountains national park

The trail was popular with walkers and her sudden disappearance was strange given that that she had been with other people and there had been groups of students both in front of them and behind, as well as other hikers.

Trenny Gibson disappearance

Because of the weather, helicopters couldn't begin searching for Trenny until the afternoon of October 8th and fall foliage made it harder for search and rescue teams to look down onto the ground.

Searchers used about a half-dozen dog teams with Bloodhounds and German Shepherds to look for Trenny. Three of the tracking dogs picked up her scent at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail. They followed it by Clingmans Dome Tower, Some of the dogs last detected her scent along the roadside about a mile and a half from Newfound Gap but then then the dogs stopped.

Since the dogs led to a local road this gave credence to a theory that she had been abducted but would someone involved with foul play wait in the bushes on a steep slope away from the trail with so many hikers around? Some accounts tell of cigarettes and a beer can found in the area near the road whether the sniffer dog had come to a halt. A second search from April 18th to May 5th 1977 also failed to turn up any leads.

Clingmans dome trail great smoky mountains
Clingmans dome trail great smoky mountains

A fellow Student, Robert Simpson was said to have been implicated as Trenny's hair comb was found in his car, but police did not consider him a serious suspect.

Parents Robert and Hope Gibson alerted authorities about a past incident in which a young man had tried to break into their home. Hope Gibson shot him, and the young man later threatened to harm Trenny. Knox County deputies looked into the incident, but the lead went nowhere.

One theory goes that Trenny was taken to the Clingman's Dome observation tower and held against her will or voluntarily whilst the area was being searched. The tower itself was not investigated at the time. Subsequently when searchers left, she was taken to the roadside and left by car. 

Clingmans dome trail great smoky mountains observation tower

A classmate and friend, Kim Pouncey said in an interview in late November 2017 (Appalachian unsolved) that she wonders if  Trenny just took off from the park and that maybe she just wanted to leave, to get out."My feeling is somebody was waiting for her (in the park)," she said. "There was a parking lot very close. ... I've always felt like Trenny planned it, and that was her way out."

By October 12th, four days after her disappearance, the search was scaled back to about 20 people. Extensive searches of the park continued until the end of October 1976, but Trenny has never been found. The chief ranger told reporters he was almost certain she was not in the park. Searchers went back to the park in 1981, but again nothing. She had vanished off the face of the planet.