Did Trenny Run Away?

It is often thought that Trenny may have run away from the park that day, either by hitchhiking out or having had someone meet her in a prearranged location to drive her away. 


- Trenny had no clothing or purse with her that day. She had left her purse in her Mother's car that morning when she was droppped off at school.  Wouldn't you at least take that with you if you were planning on running away?

- Trenny had $200 in her drawer at home and $1000 in her bank account.  None of this money was taken along with her that day.

- If Trenny wanted to run away from the park, why bother hiking to Andrew's Bald and back first?  Why not just leave from the Clingman's Dome parking lot? Or from home, for that matter. 

- No hints were dropped prior that she planned to leave

- Trenny would have had to have known the destination of the trip in advance in order to arrange for someone to pick her up and take her out of the park. She also would've needed to have a location planned to meet her ride.  She was not experienced in the Park in regards to these locations.

- Trenny was wearing a fellow student's jacket

- Trenny's older brother Robert was home on leave when Trenny vanished.  He was in the Navy and Trenny hadn't seen him for awhile.  He and Trenny were close and she was enjoying his visit.

-Trenny had injured her foot a couple of weeks prior to her disappearance and was taking medication for it.  She left the medication at home.  The medication was antibiotic in nature, as she had punctured her foot on a small stone, jumping hurdles in the backyard.  She was not taking painkillers.

- Trenny had never visited the Park before, or gone on an all-day school field trip.




Robert Gibson Jr. Trenny's older brother

Equation for Disaster

   40 Students

+ 1 teacher as a chaperone

+ field trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

+ 1.5 hours from Knoxville

- cell phones (it's 1976)

\ into small groups of students walking at different paces

x trees, shrubbery, leaves on the ground, slippery trails

x temperature dropping, rain moving in

= what could possibly go wrong?

Trenny's signature in a 1976 Bearden Echo Yearbook

Class of 1978 Bearden High

 This weekend marks the 40 year class reunion of Bearden High, Knoxville Tennessee.  Sadly, one of the alumni is missing.  A pretty, green-eyed girl with long, reddish brown hair.  Trenny Lynn Gibson.


 Trenny is frozen in time as a 16 year old girl.  Today, at 57, likely she would've gone on to have a college education, career, a family, or a combination thereof. Instead, on October 8, 1976, she attended a field trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and vanished into oblivion. No trace of her was ever found.  Now, nearly 42 years later, many more questions than answers remain.  


 Trenny lives on through sites such as this one.  Her case is featured in several books and the trail that she disappeared from can be found on YouTube. Hopefully, her classmates will reminisce about her with fondness on this day.  May she not be forgotten.

Happy Birthday Trenny

 Today, August 17, 2018, marks the occasion of Trenny's 58th birthday.  In 2018, we have witnessed the resolution of many cold cases, we now know the identity of Lyle Stevik and The Bucksin Girl, we witnessed the capture of the Golden State Killer,  the murders of April Tinsley, Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible have been solved as well this year.  May 2018 be the year that Trenny's case is solved, too.  Happy Birthday Trenny!


And in the end,

It's not the years 

in your life that count

It's the life in your years.


Abraham Lincoln

Back To School

September 7, 1976.  School began on this day at Bearden High.  Students said farewell to the lazy, hazy days of summer and sleeping in late in the mornings.  A little more than a month later, one of the students from the junior class, would vanish into oblivion and 42 years later remain missing.  In that time, Trenny would become the subject of what not to do on a hiking trip, the paranormal,  cryptozoology, true crime, unsolved mysteries, and reach urban legend status.  But the fact remains, she is still missing.  And how much more do we know now about that day, than was known nearly 42 years ago? 

Trenny's sophomore picture on site owner's mantle

The house Trenny resided in when she disappeared. 1427 Whitower Dr. Knoxville

42 Years Ago Today, October 8, 1976-October 8, 2018

42 years ago today, on a misty Friday afternoon, Trenny Lynn Gibson, appeared to go to the right of the trail she was following, while on a school field trip to GSMNP, and vanished into oblivion.  It was supposed to have been a good day, fun, free from the confines of a classroom, out in the fresh Fall air, in the beauty of the Smokies. Talking, joking and hiking with friends.  Instead, everything went south in a hurry around 3 pm that afternoon.   Trenny disappeared.  One of the classmates that I interviewed that was on the trip that day, and among the last to see Trenny,  commented " Without a doubt, Trenny's disappearance was the most surreal event that I have ever witnessed".  No trace of Trenny has ever been found, at least not any trace that's been released to the general public.  Others know differently.  One of the things that I've found while researching this case for more than 13 years, is that it's like peeling an onion, layer after layer.  Each layer brings forth something else to the surface.  New information comes to light.  People are breaking the veil of silence, and beginning to remember more about that day, memories that haven't been called to mind for years.  Last week, Mitzie Sue Clements, was located after being missing for a week.  She vanished in an area in close proximity to where Trenny disappeared, after separating from her daughter and hiking alone.  Sadly, the resolution was not a positive one, she was located deceased, after an intensive search complete with drones, doctors, portable cell phone towers, etc.  Hers was the 11th death in the Smokies of 2018.  Save for the doctors, cell phones and drones were technology that was not available in 1976 when the search was on for Trenny. Perhaps if they had been available, she would have been found, and we wouldn't have been left to wonder all these years.  Last August, Austin Bohanan was missing in the Smokies for 11 days, and survived. He was able to tell his story.  Trenny cannot, for she is still missing, and unable to cry out for justice.  It's the duty of the living to do so for her.


I promise to be your strength 

whenever you fall weak.

I promise to be your voice

when you can't find the words.


Emily Thurston

The Trail Went Cold

  Earlier this morning, Trenny's story had the honour and distinction of being the 100th episode of the podcast "The Trail Went Cold".   Would like to give a big thank you to Robin Warder who is the creator and host, as well as a big shout out to Lesley Cvetnich, who looks after the content of "Appalachian Unsolved", for making this happen.  I know wherever Trenny is, she is thanking them as well. My voice can be heard in a voice cameo at the end.



If you you listen to podcasts about unsolved crime or are a fan of "Unsolved Mysteries", I urge you to check out " The Trail Went Cold".  Robin profiles many of the still unsolved cases that appeared on the tv series,  as well as others that did not.  He recently covered the "Keddie Cabin Murders" for Halloween.  It slightly beat out the "Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders" by listener poll, another case that I have given much study. 


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