June 23, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will open a new exhibit, Celebrating West Virginia State Parks and Forests, one of the West Virginia’s Gift to the World series, in the Lobby Gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. An opening reception to celebrate the show will be held Tuesday, June 29, at the Culture Center beginning at 6 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and the public is invited to attend. Celebrating West Virginia State Parks and Forests will remain on display through Aug. 15.
The evening’s event will include remarks by Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin of the Department of Education and the Arts, Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division, Ken Caplinger, state parks chief and Gov. Joe Manchin III.
The exhibit will feature images of scenic wonders and views found in the Mountain State’s parks and forests. There is a timeline of when the parks were established including the parks and forests built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); recreational activities to be enjoyed such has fishing, hiking and biking; state parks which specialize in preserving Civil War sites such as Droop Mountain and Carnifex Ferry battlefields; postcards; patches, badges and uniforms representing eight decades of state park service; pieces of the original state park china by McNicols and Carr; cannon balls, bullets and parts of rifles from Droop Mountain; images of some of the largest fish caught to scale; and much more memorabilia.
CCC crews numbering more than 50,000 worked on more than 60 camps in West Virginia. They built hundreds of cabins, picnic shelters, lodges and bridges, planted trees, developed more than 30 state and national parks and parkways and built lakes, ponds and swimming pools between 1932 - 1941. West Virginia’s State Forests with CCC structures and influence include Cabwaylingo, Coopers Rock, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Kumbrabow and Seneca state forests. State Parks with beginnings by the CCC are Babcock, Cacapon, Droop Mountain Battlefield, the lower park at Hawks Nest, Lost River, Watoga and Camp Will Rogers, which was abandoned in 1937 due to a reduction in the CCC program.
Visitors will be able to see a Camp Will Rogers sign, original blueprints for construction jobs in various state parks and forests, a case of artifacts from Blennerhassett Island, photos of structures and workers from the CCC and tools used during the period.
There will be a “Celebrating Parks Journal” on hand for visitors to sign and make comments about their favorite spots. Another area is reserved for visitors to post a favorite photograph or snapshot taken at a state park or forest while fishing, playing, swimming, at a picnic, family reunion, wedding or any other occasion. “After all, parks are for people and for all these many years parks have provided great places and spaces for vacations and recreations,” says Sissie Summers, programming administrator for the state park system. “We want people to share in the celebration and become part of the exhibit.”
Summers worked closely with Betty Gay, the Division’s exhibit coordinator to create the exhibit. The two contacted parks, searched files and the state archives and bounced around a lot of ideas to develop the exhibit. “The exhibit is like a micro-history–telling the story of West Virginia’s park system from its beginning until today. I am amazed with the images, artifacts, history, programs, people and services that the park system has and continues to provide the state and its many guests,” says Gay.
For more information about the West Virginia’s Gift to the World exhibit, Celebrating West Virginia’s State Parks and Forests, contact Gay at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.