Legend has it that when the Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of what is now Hungry Mother State Park, a young mother by the name of Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders’ base. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness barely surviving by eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek until the child finding help. The only words the child could utter were “Hungry Mother.” The search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly collapsed to find the child’s mother dead.
Today that mountain is Molly’s Knob (3,270 feet), and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek. John D. and Mildred Lincoln donated 1,881 acres to the state for the establishment of a state park in Smyth County on Hungry Mother Creek in 1933. Later that year the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began construction of Hungry Mother and five other state parks. Roads, trails, picnic areas, cabins, a restaurant, bathhouse, dam and sanitation system were all built by the 600 CCC men at the park between 1933 and 1941. On June 13, 1936, the six-park Virginia State Park System was officially dedicated with public opening ceremonies at Hungry Mother State Park in Smyth County. More than 5,000 turned out to see the park as Governor George Peery and State Park Director Robert Burson officiated.