Hanbury Preservation Consulting

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

New Deal Resources in Kumbrabow State Forest Historic District

The land that is now Kumbrabow State Forest was purchased by the State of West Virginia in 1934. Governor Herman G. Kump, Spates Brady, and Hubert Bowers were largely responsible for brokering the purchase and the forest was dubbed with an amalgam of their surnames.

Kumbrabow State Forest 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 at Kumbrabow, Camp Bowers (S-62) and Camp Randolph (S-72).

CCC work on the site addressed recreational and conservation values including the construction of cabins and picnic areas and the creation of infrastructure to house forestry operations as well as conservation such as fire management. The CCC provided job training, employment, and income to participants during the Great Depression. Their work at Kumbrabow and elsewhere created public infrastructure serving the public during the Depression and continuing to this day.

Kumbrabow's rustic style resources including the cabins, picnic shelters, and superintendent's residence are excellent examples of rustic "parkitecture." Many structures conform to published designs by the Conservation Commission of West Virginia Division of Forestry and the CCC. Kumbrabow State Forest's overall landscape plan has roads and trails that are sympathetic to the topography in the forest. Placement of recreation resources in tight clusters tucked in wooded areas 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 Kumbrabow State Forest 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 August 2019. A copy of the nomination can be found here.