Panther State Forest, located near Iaeger in McDowell County, is West Virginia’s southernmost state forest. The forest derives its name from Panther Creek. In 1940, the state of West Virginia, to meet a need for public recreational facilities in the southern coalfields, decided to establish a state forest in the Panther Creek area. The Welch Daily News spearheaded a campaign to raise funds for the project. A ‘‘Pennies for Panther’’ drive collected small donations from school children, union locals, service clubs, and other organizations.
Panther State Forest is rich in plant life. Among its wildflowers are mayapple, fire pink, touch-me-nots, jack-in-the-pulpit, bishop’s cap, and blood-root. Of particular interest is Japanese loosestrife, which has been found at only two other places on the North American continent. Small colonies of this rare plant have been discovered at Kanawha State Forest and in Louisiana. At Panther, however, Japanese loosestrife grows profusely, possibly brought to this country on oil and gas drilling equipment from Asia. The 7,810-acre forest offers hunting and fishing and has a swimming pool, a group camp, and a small campground, along with day-use facilities such as hiking trails, picnic areas, and game courts.
This Article was written by Robert Beanblossom
Last Revised on October 22, 2010
Beanblossom, Robert. Panther State Forest: Recreational Jewel of McDowell County. Wonderful West Virginia, (Aug. 1987).