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Lost River State Park

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The Civilian Conservation Corps and Lost River State Park , West Virginia
(See Photos Below!)

     Although most of my research and exhibits are WPA-related, I occasionally like to do an exhibit on other New Deal programs.  I recently discovered a great example of the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia: Lost River State Park.

     Lost River State Park is in Hardy County, West Virginia, near the town of Mathias.  According to informational brochures at the park, the CCC began developing the park on May 15, 1934 and had it ready for public use on July 1, 1937.  The CCC continued developing the park until sometime in 1942.

     An information brochure at the park states that the CCC built "15 standard cabins, an administration building, the superintendent's residence, a swimming pool and bathhouse, a spring house covering the Lee Sulphur Springs...and several bridges and other small stone structures throughout the park...The stonework of these beautiful buildings and structures was built to last.  Many CCC work examples remain intact, including the 15 standard cabins still in use today...the park is a tribute to the tireless work of the CCC boys."  Other brochures and signs at the park detail even more CCC work, e.g., roads, foot trails, a tool house, horse stables, and the renovation of the "Lee House." 

     As you look at the photos below, please consider how many generations of people have enjoyed Lost River State Park, as well as the hundreds of other parks that the CCC created or developed.  Also consider that the men of the CCC were unemployed--and often frowned upon--before "Roosevelt's Tree Army" gave them an opportunity to work and prove themselves.  Lastly, remember that many of the "CCC boys" continued their service to our country during World War II, risking (and sometimes sacrificing) their lives so that we could have the freedom to enjoy the parks they created and developed.


Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by Brent McKee.  Click here for more information on photo credits, permission to use, and exhibit descriptions

Above: The CCC created miles of hiking trails in Lost River State Park.

Above: A resident of Lost River State Park...no doubt thankful for the work of the CCC!

Above: During the first half of the twentieth century fire towers were used to spot forest fires.  This is the "Big Ridge Fire Tower" in Lost River State Park, built (or rebuilt) by the CCC, circa 1935.

Above: A closer view of the top of the fire tower.  These old fire towers are becoming increasingly rare.

Above: The sign states that the fire tower was built in 1935.  However, a narrative on a wall in the main administrative building states that it was "rebuilt" in 1935. 

Above: An old cabin near the fire tower, where the fire lookouts lived during their duty shifts.  The CCC probably built or improved this building.

Above: Inside Lost River State Park is the "Lee House."  This house was built sometime in the first half of the 1800s, probably by Charles Lee, brother of Robert E. Lee.  The land around the house has been owned by Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Thomas Culpeper, the 5th Lord Fairfax, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, and the Lee Family.  The state of West Virginia bought the land in 1933. 

Above: The CCC moved the Lee House in the 1930s.  The CCC built the newer foundation you see here, and rebuilt the house on top of it.  The new location appears to be higher than the original location, so it may have been moved to prevent flood damage.

Above: When the CCC rebuilt the Lee House, they made some interior modifications to make it more visitor-friendly, e.g., display rooms and a central staircase.

Above: One of the two second-story rooms in the Lee House.

Above: One of the cabins built by the CCC in the 1930s, and still available for rental.

Above: Another view of the CCC-built cabin.

Above: Living room area of the CCC cabin.

Above: A good picture of the main timbers/logs of the CCC cabin.

Above: One of the two bedrooms of the CCC cabin.

Above: Many of the interior pieces of the CCC cabins date back to the 1930s, and some were even made by the CCC, such as this dining room table.

Above: A cane-seat chair, probably made by the CCC.

Above: A CCC engraving found on the drawer of a utility table. 

Above: Many of the cast iron fixtures in the CCC cabins are original, but I'm not sure if the CCC made them or if they were made by private contractors. 

Above: A window latch; possibly from the 1930s.  Note the very simple, but functional design.

Above: The CCC built this bridge and shelter.  The shelter protects a sulphur spring.

Above: A CCC-built bathhouse for the pool.

Above: The CCC stonework around the pool is quite elaborate, giving the area a castle-like feel.

Above: Stonework at the far end of the pool area.

Above: A stone retaining wall for the pool parking lot.

Above: An abandoned fire pit/grill.

Above: A stone water fountain.

Above: A CCC-built foot bridge.

Above: One of the main bridges in the park. The amount of stonework at Lost River State Park is pretty amazing.

Above: A CCC-built shelter at the park.  It looks as though the back end of the shelter was built by the CCC, while the front section is much newer.

Above: The inside of the shelter.
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