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Camp Washington-Carver


Named for Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, Camp Washington-Carver is located at Clifftop, Fayette County. It has the distinction of having been the first 4-H camp for African-Americans in the country, and its great chestnut lodge is the largest log structure in West Virginia. The camp was constructed under two New Deal work programs, the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1940, the first building was completed, a two-room guest cottage. Also in that year, the water tank and pond were finished. In 1942, the log lodge, two frame dormitories, the swimming pool, and a bathhouse were constructed. The complex was dedicated and opened to the public on July 26, 1942.

From 1942 to 1979, Camp Washington-Carver served as an off-campus learning center for West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University). During the years of racial segregation, hundreds of Black West Virginians participated in summer 4-H camps, Boys State and Girls State, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, mining encampments, home economics encampments, church camps, private camps, and other programs at Camp Washington-Carver. The dining hall, spacious grounds, and swimming pool were also rented for social gatherings such as picnics, weddings, and reunions throughout the year.

In 1979, the camp was transferred to the West Virginia Department of Culture and History (now Department of Arts, Culture and History) to become a rural cultural arts center. In 1980, Camp Washington-Carver was added to the National Register of Historic Places. After extensive rehabilitation, the facility was reopened in 1984. Camp Washington-Carver now occupies 83 acres of land owned by the Public Land Corporation.

The Appalachian String Band Music Festival, one of the most popular traditional music festivals in the East, attracts thousands of participants to Camp Washington-Carver for a week-long celebration each August. Camp Washington-Carver continues to be a favorite spot for reunions.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Camp Washington-Carver.

Written by Norman Jordan