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Kermit McKeever (March 10, 1910-September 8, 1995) was considered father of the modern West Virginia state park system. He was born at what he called ‘‘the mountain place’’ near Renick, Greenbrier County. A graduate of Glenville State College in education and West Virginia University in forestry, McKeever began his career in 1942 as superintendent of Lost River State Park.

McKeever believed that if the park system was to grow and prosper, its managers must pay attention to West Virginia politics. McKeever paid attention. He became superintendent of Watoga State Park in 1944 and four years later he had the job of running the entire park system. During Governor Marland’s term (1953–57), McKeever planned Blackwater Falls and Holly River state parks, while Grandview State Park came to fruition during Governor Cecil Underwood’s first term in office during the late 1950s. Hawks Nest and the modern resort parks — Pipestem, Canaan, Cacapon, and Twin Falls — came along during Governor Barron’s term in the early 1960s.

McKeever firmly opposed entrance fees to the parks. He disagreed with the perennial criticism that the parks don’t pay for themselves, pointing out the indirect returns. ‘‘Canaan . . . opened the door to millions of dollars in businesses, taxes, and employment. The parks have many times paid for themselves.’’

McKeever retired in 1978 and died in Charleston. During his tenure as parks chief the number of state parks grew from 14 to 35, with a new one opening about every 16 months. McKeever Lodge at Pipestem was named for him.

This Article was written by Maureen F. Crockett

Last Revised on September 08, 2021

Cite This Article

Crockett, Maureen F. "Kermit McKeever." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 September 2021. Web. 23 May 2024.


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