Watoga State Park Offers Summer Programs

At over 10,000 acres, Watoga is the largest state park in West Virginia. And according to Assistant Superintendent Kelly Smith, Watoga also has a big history.

“Watoga initiated as a Civilian Conservation Corps project. There were actually several camps located here in this general area. Camp Watoga, Camp Seebert, Camp Will Rogers. They initially got things started as far as the structures that you’ll find here at Watoga State Park. They built the road systems and trail systems. Many of our cabins and structures here in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps men.”

The Civilian Conservation Corps, also known as the CCC, was a New Deal program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to conserve natural resources and address the problems of the Great Depression.

Eighty years after the first CCC boys arrived at Watoga, the park is still working to conserve West Virginia’s natural resources through educational programs.

“We have a naturalist on staff conducting naturalist activities Tuesday through Saturday every week. And that’s going to be anything from learning the basics of compass reading and orienteering courses to wild turkey programs or night hikes or making plaster tracks. So there’s a wide variety, from interpretive hikes to crafts and programs where people can learn more about state parks.”

According to the park’s brochure, Native Americans called the Greenbrier River area “Watoga,” a word that means “the river of islands.” The river forms several miles of the park’s boundary, providing visitors with fishing, canoeing, and swimming opportunities. Watoga also offers over forty miles of hiking trails, a swimming pool, and a seasonal restaurant.

Along with the weekly summer naturalist programs, additional special events scheduled at the park. This Saturday, June 14th, Watoga will have a Civilian Conservation Corps reunion. The event is open to the public and will start at 9am at the Recreation Hall. Lunch will be provided.

“We’ll have a few returning members of the Civilian Conservation Corps come back and kind of share some pictures and stories. It’s a good chance to catch up on some history.”

For more information about upcoming events, call (304) 799-4087 or visit the website, watoga.com.

“Whether there are visitors coming in from out of state or from the local community, being a West Virginia state park, we are here for them to be able to learn more about the natural history, learn from our naturalist program, or just enjoy a trail that we’re about to provide here at Watoga State Park.”

Story By

Megan Moriarty

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