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Chopawamsic & Catoctin

A sign used during the development of Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area

 Chopawamsic & Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Areas
See Photos Below!
The WPA & CCC Created Recreational Opportunities for Generations of Americans!

      Considered sister parks within the National Park Service, both Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area (now called Prince William Forest Park) and Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area (now called Catoctin Mountain Park) were New Deal creations of the 1930s.  Created largely through the labor of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, these parks have provided recreational opportunities for Americans for over seventy years.

     Twenty miles south of the Capital Beltway, Chopawamsic (Prince William) is near  Dumfries, Virginia.  According to the National Park Service, "The Civilian Conservation Corps built Prince William Forest Park from scratch.  From 1936 to 1942, the CCC used locally harvested materials to turn farmland into an outdoor playground for D.C. area residents."  (See here)

     In a small museum at Chopawamsic (Prince William), a narrative to a display states: "Alongside local crews of skilled African American and white Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers, the all-white CCC boys provided mass amounts of manual, unskilled labor to the project.  150 of the CCC/WPA-built cabins still stand in the park today."  Of course, the very fact that these cabins still exist, and provide recreational enjoyment to Americans, shows that the WPA and CCC crews were actually providing skilled labor.  (Note: Mention of race is made because the WPA and CCC made efforts, where feasible, to give plenty of work opportunities to African Americans, as well as to integrate (mostly in the WPA) work crews.  These efforts were often limited because of prejudices that existed in certain geographic areas, as well as prejudices that existed within some officials and administrators).

     Fifty miles north of the Capital Beltway, Catoctin is near Thurmont, Maryland.  On the National Park Service's homepage for Catoctin, it is stated, "President Franklin D. Roosevelt created programs to give people a chance to rebuild their lives from the Great Depression.  The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps gave this land a second opportunity and through re-growth, a new role as a recreation area."  (See here)

     As you may know, part of Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was "cordoned off" and became the presidential retreat Camp David.  Both the WPA and the CCC participated in the development of Camp David (initially called "Hi-Catoctin," and then "Shangri-La").  Among presidents, no one enjoyed Camp David more than Ronald Reagan.  See a picture of Ronald Reagan relaxing at Camp David here.   

     If you're interested in reading about an idea I had for monuments at these parks--which relates to CCC statues currently being placed in parks across the country--please see my WPA Monument page. 
Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted, all black and white photos were taken by the WPA, are in the public domain, and provided courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.  All color photos--unless otherwise noted--were taken by Brent McKee.  Click here for more information on photo credits, permission to use, and exhibit descriptions.

Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area
(now called Prince William Forest Park)

Above: The entry sign to Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area.  Now called (obviously) Prince William Forest Park.  Photo taken 2012.

Above: Chopawamsic (Prince William) provides many hiking trails for those wishing to get outside and enjoy nature, such as the short, but serene Algonquian Trail.  Photo take 2012.

Above: A tranquil stream at the end of the Algonquian Trail.  Photo taken 2012.

Above: A CCC & WPA-built cabin, still serving Americans who need a respite from the hustle & bustle of the daily grind.  Photo taken 2012.

Above: The original sign to Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area.  This is a picture I took from a video documentary shown at the park.  Photo taken 2012.

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Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area
(now called Catoctin Mountain Park)

Above:   The entry sign for Catoctin Mountain Park.  Photo taken 2011.   

Above: The WPA built this blacksmith building at Catoctin Mountain Park (Frederick County) in the 1930s, and then used it to help develop the park.  Photo taken 2011.

Lodge #42 at Catoctin Mountain park was built by the WPA.  Photo courtesy of the National Park Service. 

This is Cabin #33 at Camp Misty Mount in Catoctin Mountain Park, built with WPA labor.  According to the National Park Service, WPA construction and development of Catoctin Mountain Park began in 1936 and ended in 1941.  "Park structures and facilities were built using the rustic arch style characteristic of National Park Service buildings of that era.  The buildings were in harmony with nature, using natural colors and few straight lines" (for more information, see Catoctin Mountain Park, Works Progress Administration).  Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

The WPA built Cabin #16 at Camp Misty Mount.  Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

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