The twenty-fourth anniversary of the dedication of the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum at Watoga State Park, Pocahontas County, West Virginia was celebrated Saturday, June 13, (2015) in the Watoga State Park activity center.
Edward Hager, son of the late John E. Hager; one of the founders of the Watoga CCC Museum, was master of ceremonies. Kelly Smith; Assistant Superintendent of Watoga State Park welcomed the attendees and updated the reunion on progress of moving the CCC museum from the present building into the Watoga State Park main office building.
“On behalf of Superintendent Mark Wylie, I welcome you to this anniversary reunion. During the past year, we have upgraded our recreational facilities; our playgrounds and equipment have been replaced and upgraded. Our cabins have been upgraded and repairs made on our 10,000 acre park,” she continued. “Every day, we appreciate more and more the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps to our park and the other state parks. We also welcome the CCC family members, Mr. Hagar, and the representatives of the West Virginia State Civilian Conservation Corps Museum in attendance today.”
After the Raising of the Colors (Pledge of Allegiance), a Moment of Silence was marked. In Hager’s remarks, he emphasized the importance of moving the Watoga CCC Museum to it’s new home as soon as possible due to deteriorating conditions of the present structure. He thanked the State of West Virginia and officials of Watoga State Park and the Forest Service for their continued support of the museum. Hagar also noted that this is the first reunion at which no CCC Veterans were in attendance.
Hager recognized Charles S. Piercy, Acting President of the West Virginia State Civilian Conservation Corps Museum Association. Piercy updated the reunion group on highlights at the State CCC Museum located in Quiet Dell, Harrison County. “We thank Ed Hager and his wife, Carolyn, for their efforts in keeping the Watoga State Park CCC Museum viable and for continuing the annual reunions.” Piercy stated. “The association continues to improve and update the Harrison County museum. We hope to dedicate our CCC new barracks museum in the fall.”
“Artifacts, photos, and display cases have been recently moved into the refurbished barracks building located on the campus of the historically recognized Quiet Dell Grade School.” He noted. “Volunteers from the State Museum have been traveling to CCC Camp sites across the State of West Virginia, including Lost River State Park, Mathias, West Virginia, and Camp Cranberry, Richwood, West Virginia.” He continued. “While traveling to this reunion, we visited CCC cabins and works in the Seneca State Forest, including the refurbished Thorny Mountain Fire Tower which overlooks the Greenbrier River Valley and much of Pocahontas County. The tower was built by the CCC in 1935 and is scheduled to reopen June 20, 2015. We are very impressed. And, we also walked the forest at Gaudineer Fire Tower, in Randolph County.” Piecy invited those in attendance, and everyone, to include the State CCC Museum in Harrison County in their vacation and travel plans.
Representatives of the State CCC Museum were introduced: Richard Bailey; secretary, of Bridgeport, Harrison County, Edison and Dorothy Gunno; newsletter board members of Cross Lanes, Kanawha County, Charles Piercy of Kingmont, Marion County, and Reggie Rogers; board, of Chubb Run, Harrison County.
Hager noted a number of historic events in CCC History. “On Friday, May 26, 1933, a special train carrying over 200 of the first CCC recruits came to the Thornwood CCC from Fort Knox, Kentucky training.” he continued. “On June 6, 1933, plans to form camps for Seneca and Watoga were announced.” And he noted another key date: “Camps at Watoga and Seneca were to be permanent camps. Work started on buildings, and barracks, to replace the tents the men lived in. That was September 1933.” He pointed out the handcrafted CCC pillowcase donated to the Watoga Museum by Janet Godwin, daughter of CCC Hall of Fame member, the late Stewart England. Hager then presented the vintage video of the dedication of the Watoga State Park CCC Museum 1990, while reunion attendees enjoy a covered dish dinner and viewed displays of CCC memorabilia, photo albums of Camp Watoga, and tours of the Watoga CCC Museum. Tours of the original Camp Watoga barracks still remaining, were available.