April 6, 1938: Civilian Conservation Corps Establish Camp Kanawha
On April 6, 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps established Camp Kanawha at the mouth of Shrewsbury Hollow, about seven miles south of Charleston. Over the next four years, CCC workers transformed the site, which had been heavily mined and timbered, into Kanawha State Forest.
The CCC removed abandoned houses, coal tipples, and other structures no longer in use and built roads, a superintendent’s residence, an office, a maintenance building, and picnic shelters. The superintendent’s residence and picnic shelters were made from native chestnut logs that had been felled by the recent blight. The CCC also built a dam across Davis Creek to create a small lake.
Today, the 9,300-acre Kanawha State Forest is a wildflower haven, with at least 574 species, and about 65 tree species. The forest also provides a nesting habitat for 19 species of wood warblers, which draws birders from as far away as Canada. Recreational facilities include numerous hiking trails, a swimming pool, stables, picnic sites, playgrounds, a shooting range, and a campground.
The Kanawha State Forest Historic District, including the CCC-constructed buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.