An official press release of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Bear Creek Lake State Park in 1940
Three Virginia State Parks added to National Register of Historic Places
Three Virginia State Parks originally developed as federal recreational areas in the 1930s have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Twin Lakes State Park in Prince Edward County were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as Recreation Demonstration Areas in the mid-1930s. All three later became Virginia State Parks. Twin Lakes State Park was originally two parks – Goodwin Lake State Park and Prince Edward State Park for Negroes. Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Like the first six Virginia State Parks that opened to the public in 1936, these three parks were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC, created by President Franklin Roosevelt to help put Depression era men back to work, was part of the U.S. Forestry Service. Unlike the six original state parks, these three areas were developed as larger Recreation Demonstration Areas. State parks were seen as family destinations for day-use and overnight visits. The recreation areas were larger areas seen as being more natural in design and focusing on day-use recreational opportunities for nearby population areas. All three of the current state parks are surrounded by Virginia State Forests which were originally part of the recreation areas.
“This national designation is another way to help us tell the story of how these parks were developed to provide affordable recreation to the people of Virginia,” said DCR’s state parks director Joe Elton. “Bear Creek, Holliday Lake and Twin Lakes, like all Virginia State Parks, will continue to provide quality outdoor recreation while protecting valuable natural resources for generations to come.”
The parks were added to the National Register of Historic Places after the combined efforts of DCR and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The parks are also listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register, the state’s official list of historically significant sites.
“In addition to outstanding natural and recreational assets, these parks reveal important aspects of our Nation’s 20th century history in the stories of each park’s creation and development,” said DHR director Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, who proposed the register-listing initiative to DCR .
A brief synopsis of each of the parks just added to the national register:
Bear Creek Lake, Cumberland, Virginia
Established in 1938 approximately 100 members of the CCC built a 50-acre lake, two pavilions, a concession stand and six fireplaces. The property was transferred to the state in 1940. In 1962 campgrounds were added and it became Bear Creek Lake State Park. Twelve rental cabins, a family lodge and a conference center were built in 1997. Cumberland State Forest surrounds the park.
Holliday Lake State Park, Appomattox, Virginia
Created in 1937 the park’s 250 acres are centered on the 150-acre Holliday Lake, one of the largest lakes in the area. The park’s facilities were constructed by local residents and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers, who were housed in a CCC camp that is now the site of the Holliday Lake 4-H Camp. In 1942, the state took over the management of the recreation area. In 1972, with the addition of campgrounds, it became Holliday Lake State Park. The park is surrounded by Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest.
Twin Lakes State Park, Prince Edward County, Virginia
Consisting of 495 acres within Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest, the park began as two racially segregated recreational areas – Prince Edward Lake (for blacks) and Goodwin Lake (for whites) during Virginia’s Jim Crow era. The recreational areas were partially built circa 1939 by Camp Gallion, an African-American CCC camp located within the state forest, and developed for day use. Each recreation area featured lake access, picnic shelters, and play equipment. but had no overnight facilities. In 1950 Prince Edward recreational area was upgraded to Prince Edward State Park for Negroes following a law suit filed by Oliver W. Hill on behalf of Conrad Martin of Danville who had been denied entrance to another Virginia State Park. The suit sought to establish “separate but equal” facilities for blacks. Nearby Goodwin Lake continued as a recreation area for whites. Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Prince Edward State Park and Goodwin Lake remained largely segregated. In 1976, the two facilities were merged into a desegregated unit, called Prince Edward-Goodwin Lake State Park, and in 1986 it was renamed Twin Lakes State Park.
With the addition of these three parks, 12 of Virginia’s 35 state parks now contain core historic districts that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places; 16 other state parks have historic structures, buildings, and archaeological sites individually listed on the register.
For more information on all of Virginia’s award-winning state parks click hereor call toll-free 1-800-922-PARK (7275).