Hanbury Preservation Consulting

P.O. Box 6049
Raleigh, NC 27628 USA
(919) 828-1905 phone

New Deal Resources in Babcock State Park Historic District

The area that is now Babcock State Park was heavily mined and timbered as early as the late 19th century.  The Longdale Iron Company mined there and built a narrow-gauge railroad along Mann's Creek to transport material out of the canyon.  By 1908 the coal reserves were depleted and the land was sold to the Sewell Lumber Company. It later passed to the Babcock Lumber Company which continued to use the narrow-gauge railway.  During the Depression, E. V. Babcock sold a large parcel to the state of West Virginia to establish a State Park.

Babcock State Park was established during the Great Depression with assistance from federal New Deal programs. As part of the New Deal, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt combined the creation of jobs to spur the economy with programs to invest in public infrastructure across the nation. One focus of these programs was to create parks and recreation resources for the public. Two CCC camps worked there--Camp Beaver (SP-3)  established in 1934 followed by Camp Lee (SP-6) in 1935.

CCC work on the site created public infrastructure including natural conservation projects, forestry programs, fire protection improvements, transportation resources through roads and trails, and recreational faculties.  These investments not only served the CCC members and the public during the Depression but have continued to serve their communities and the nation at large to this day.

Babcock's rustic-style resources including the cabins, picnic shelter, superintendent's residence, and hiking shelter are excellent examples of rustic "parkitecture" promoting the use of natural, local materials such as wood and stone, often roughly finished. Babcock State Park's overall landscape plan features the placement of recreation resources in tight clusters, and using rough natural materials allowed buildings and structures to be unobtrusive and not detract from their natural setting and appearance, providing visual harmony.

New Deal Resources in Babcock State Park Historic District was nominated under the New Deal Resources in West Virginia State Parks and Forests Multiple Property Listing by Lena Sweeten McDonald. The nomination was prepared by Hanbury Preservation Consulting and the district was listed on the National Register in March 2020. A copy of the nomination can be found here.