Sunday, November 29, 2015

Barkcamp State Park, OH

The pioneer village general store is also used by the park staff
for registering campers.

Barkcamp State Park is in Eastern Ohio a short distance before reaching the West Virginia state line on I-70.  The interstate, originally called the National Road, was the first federally funded highway in America.  If you exit I-70 at Exit 208 and go south a short distance, near Belmont, OH, you will reach Barkcamp.  It has a small lake, Belmont Lake, with a 4.5-mi shoreline for a relaxing afternoon paddle, hiking and bridle trails, and 123 large, treed campsites.

The original orchard barn built nearly 200 years ago.

The lake is fed by Barkcamp Creek, and the name for both comes from the fact that there was actually a barking camp here.  During the great logging days, crews that stayed in this work camp stripped felled trees of their bark before the logs were delivered to the sawmill.  This was the first part of Ohio that was settled, with many Revolutionary soldiers from the East pausing here to await receipt of their land grants in return for their military service.  

Shed and livery.

At that time, this area just west of the Ohio River was called “The West.”  This beautiful area of rolling, wooded hills was valued by Native Americans and pioneers alike, which led to several battles in the area.  A reconstructed pioneer village is here, but the barn is original.  It was built in the 1800’s by Solomon Bentley, an orchard owner, and is still utilized at the park for nature and conservation programs.  Lewis Wetzel, (1752-1808) the infamous guerilla-style Indian fighter from what is now Wheeling, WV, frequented the area, and is said to have inscribed a stone located near the barn. Wetzel died in Mississippi, but his remains were returned and interred at McCreary Cemetery, Cameron, WV, only 34 miles from Barkcamp.   

The reverse side of the general store and camp office.

On the topic of conservation, Pres. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was one of this nation’s greatest conservationists, even being called the conservationist president.  Upon coming to office in 1901, he created the U.S. Forest Service, and led the way toward creating 150 national forests, 4 federal bird reserves, 5 national game preserves, 5 National Parks, and set 230 million acres aside under public land protection, along with protection of 18 National Monuments, like the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon.  Roosevelt felt this nation was blessed and made great by its gift of natural resources, but he cautioned that “to show that this nation is worthy of its good fortune,” we must practice sustainable usage of its resources.  He would turn over in his grave now to see that his Republican party endorses rampant stripping of all resources, even on protected federal lands, through oil and gas drilling, fracking, clear-cut logging, strip-mining in wildlife areas, and mining for metals and coal on protected lands, even privately-owned lands.  Last year, Ohio Valley Coal Co. filed for a permit to run a coal mine directly under Barkcamp State Park, a move resisted by the Sierra Club.  The Columbus Dispatch reports that in Ohio alone mineral rights have been applied for in 18 state forests, 24 state parks, and 53 natural areas, all endorsed by Republicans who have forgotten their own heritage.

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