From Mary’s Desk”
Our last night, at Big Meadows Campground was bathed in light after the rain of the previous day. Wooded campsites, knee deep in wildflowers, spacious and comfortable. Our lovely temporary yard.
On the road, bicyclers and motor cycle enthusiasts were out in numbers. We never heard loud motor cycles. Its as though their machines recognize the wonder of this peaceful drive.
We stopped at the Big Meadow Visitors Center. The Big Meadow is visible outside the window where 11 deer were grazing. When the Shenandoah National Park was under construction, the construction crews and one CCC Camp set up in this big meadow. This park had five CCC Camps working here. The first CCC Camp was nearby, as an experiment, to see how the project would work. It worked very well and gave some of the mountain people that lived in the park, employment as well. It was a time when hog cholera, the depression, and a horrible drought hit the area and many mountain people appreciated the work though not the eminent domain that eventually took their lands.
Shenandoah was built with more private funds from the states than government funds. A government parks commission, made up of movers and shakers, along with Virginia’s Governor Byrd, got the project moving when they invited President Hoover to visit the area. He was “hooked”. An avid trout fisherman, he loved the area and bought 165 acres and built a cabin on it. The cabin was a four mile hike in and we didn’t visit it although its available to visitors and is part of the park system now.
The Massanutten Resort, built in the late 1800’s, was one of the most popular places for the affluent people to escape the nearby cities where population was swelling and automobiles were everywhere. The first national parks were in the west, where nature was preserved and population was thin. It was a new concept to make a park so near the heavily populated city areas. The ridge line road was carved out of these Eastern mountain ranges, yet still preserves nature in all of its glory, quite a feat. The Appalachian Trail was realigned in some places to make way for the motor cars, and what we have is a grand place with over 500 miles in hiking trails, campgrounds, beautiful rivers, waterfalls, overlooks to horizon to horizon mountain views, and peace-giving nature not far from the cities.
We saw part of the Appalachian Trail and many backpack laden walkers using this great resource. The beauty of it is that you can walk it all or just a short part of it on a weekend.
We were saddened to see it come to an end. Back to the world of traffic and noise and all those things we can’t do without. A laundromat, a wonderful Martin’s Grocery Store in Front Royal where you can buy already prepared foods, and good bread. And, best of all, a visit with Glen and Karen Littlefield, with new grandbabies, I’ve never met.