Park’s 75th birthday party goes on despite heat and lack of electricity
by Jazz Clark
Like a trip into the past, Saturday’s presentations at Cacapon State Park gave a glimpse into the humble beginnings of the park.
Power had been out since 9:30 Friday evening when a major storm hit the area, so the atmosphere of the old inn was similar to May of 1937.
Historian and Superinten-dent Tom Ambrose brought out his manual projector and showed pictures of the park through time and told a little about each stage of history.
Originally called Camp Morgan, the building was started by the Civilian Con-servation Corps in the Fall of 1934 as a conservation project. The work was hard, carving out structures and bodies of water with just shovels and picks.
“They wanted to get their barracks built fast before they froze,” said Ambrose. “It was a harsh, cold winter.”
Though work was hard, many young men became strong and learned to read and write through their service in the CCC.
“Having a dedicated group to manage natural resources was just an idea until the CCC was created in 1933,” said state park District Administra-tor Robert Beanblossom.
Because of the widespread timbering in the area and economy of the 1920’s, land became extremely cheap, the land Cacapon stands on going for as cheap as 23 cents an acre.
“The land had basically turned to dust since the 20’s, so purchasing the park’s land was fairly inexpensive,” Ambrose said.
Thanks to the direction of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal Administration, millions in funds were awarded to the West Virginia Park Service for the project.
In 1953 John F. Kennedy gave $24 million to the state park system, which is nearly $250 million in today’s dollars, said Beanblossom. This largely paved the way for the “new” lodge that was built and dedicated in 1956, as well as the 18-hole golf course directly beside it.
The park is also home to many natural wonders. The animal population was almost non-existent compared to the thriving ecosystem today, Ambrose said. Creatures such as mallards, chipmunks, deer, squirrels, beavers and many others roam Cacapon in large numbers.
Cacapon has one of the tallest peaks in the eastern part of the state at 2,300 feet. The overlook near the top is one of the few places in the country you can see four states at once: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“I like to think Cacapon State Park is a park for all seasons,” said Ambrose. “Any time of the year you come. there’s something to see and do.”