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Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha State Forest is located in Kanawha County, on the headwaters of Davis Creek and middle fork of Davis Creek seven miles south of Charleston. Before its acquisition by the state, the site was extensively logged and mined. The West Virginia Conservation Commission acquired 6,705 acres on September 21, 1937, for $30,525. On April 6, 1938, Camp Kanawha of the Civilian Conservation Corps was established at the mouth of Shrewsbury Hollow to begin development of the area.

The CCC removed all of the abandoned houses, coal tipples, and other structures no longer in use, and constructed roads, the forest superintendent’s residence, office, maintenance building, and picnic shelters. The superintendent’s residence and picnic shelters were built using native chestnut logs that had been felled by the recent chestnut blight. The CCC also built a dam across Davis Creek to create a small lake. Camp Kanawha closed June 30, 1942, with the onset of World War II. In 1973, an additional 2,500 acres were acquired for Kanawha State Forest to make a total of 9,205 acres.

Kanawha State Forest is a wildflower haven. According to a 1966 report, the area holds 574 species from 292 genera representing 93 families. About 65 tree species grow in the forest. Recreational facilities include numerous hiking trails, swimming pool, stables, picnic sites, nine picnic shelters, several playgrounds, shooting range, and a 45-site campground. Hunting is permitted in season.

Kanawha State Forest is managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The Kanawha State Forest Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination.

Written by Robert Beanblossom