[Chp.1: SNP Boosters][Chp. 2: Commission on Conservation and Development][Chp. 3: Blanket Condemnation] [Chp.4: Skyline Drive and the CCC] [Chp.5: The Story of the Removals]

Stretching for more than one hundred miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains and occupying land in eight counties, Shenandoah National Park is perhaps the most visible legacy of New Deal policies in Virginia.1 The campgrounds, roads, hiking trails, and wilderness areas cleared of the evidence of previous human habitation are all the direct result of policies and initiatives undertaken in the 1930s. The park's creation, though, was hardly inevitable. From 1924, when the establishment of a national park in the Eastern United States emerged as a serious topic of discussion in Washington policy-making circles, until the summer of 1936, when President Roosevelt was the featured speaker at the park's dedication ceremony, the park faced several obstacles to its creation. Given its remote location, ensuring easy access for park visitors became a vital concern. More importantly, park proponents had to develop a relatively quick process for obtaining land for the park from private landowners in the area, many of whom vehemently opposed moving. And what should happen to the displaced residents added another layer of conflict to the park-creation process, as the political and business elites who supported the park divided over whether or not the mountain residents should be resettled in government-sponsored planned communities. These disputes and conflicts slowed the park's development and played a crucial role in determining its shape.

As early as the first decade of the twentieth century politicians had discussed the idea of establishing a national park in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. Not until Calvin Coolidge's presidency, though, did policymakers focus serious attention on the subject, as in February 1924 Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work, a Coloradan and an outdoor enthusiast, appointed the five-member Southern Appalachian National Park Committee to investigate where a national park south of Pennsylvania could be established.

SNP Boosters:With the creation of a national park in the Southern Appalachians becoming a realistic possibility, business and political leaders from the Shenandoah Valley began organizing to build support for locating the park in Virginia. In January 1924, a month before Work had appointed his committee, nearly one thousand people from the Valley gathered in Harrisonburg to devise a program designed, in one participant's words, to "tell the world of the scenic, historical, industrial and other values of the famous Shenandoah Valley." To carry out this work, the attendees voted to organize Shenandoah Valley, Inc., a regional chamber of commerce. The new group adopted as its slogan "A National Park Near the Nation's Capital," and it involved some of the Valley's leading citizens, including George Freeman Pollock, the owner of the Skyland resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains and John Crown, the editor of the Harrisonburg News-Record, one of the newspapers owned by Harry Byrd. Byrd himself steadfastly supported the park both as governor in the 1920s and senator in the 1930s. As he wrote one park backer in 1925, "I consider this to be the greatest opportunity for the material advancement of Virginia that has been suggested for generations." In an effort to draw publicity to the Valley, Shenandoah Valley, Inc. began organizing an annual Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester which one supporter enthused "rank[s] with the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the Flower Festival in Pasadena, California." Support for the cause also came from the Appalachian National Park Association, an Asheville-based group of preservationists who sought to protect the wilderness areas of the Southern Appalachians. 2

The park's backers offered many reasons why a national park should be established in the Blue Ridge of Virginia. Most frequently, the boosters selfishly argued that such a park would be easily accessible to millions of urban-dwellers on the East Coast. No longer would these people have to journey to the West to enjoy the natural world, a trip which most could not even afford. Instead, they could now enjoy a brief respite from their busy lives in the metropolis by escaping to the Blue Ridge. As one of these supporters breathlessly put it at the time of the park's dedication,

"To everyone, especially to those who live in narrow streets where automobiles are thicker than ants in an ant hill and where trolleys clang, sirens screech, and people rush about, we say, come to this beautiful Blue Ridge area for recreation and interesting knowledge...; come, and enjoy tranquillity in the canyons where streams ripple over rocks and waterfalls...; come, and feel the stimulation of the strong wind on some lofty peaks. Do these things, and you will not be disappointed; you will carry away a memory of beautiful and interesting places and a little more strength, a little more wisdom, a little more happiness than you brought with you."3

The park's advocates were also keenly aware of the economic benefits which would accrue from a national park designation, as merchants and businessmen anticipated hordes of free-spending tourists descending upon Valley establishments in conjunction with their visit to the park. William E. Carson, who headed the state's Commission on Conservation and Development, the agency which played a central role in ushering the park into existence, explained that Virginia needed to recognize the park's potential economic value. "It behooves the State to search out," he explained in a radio address in the early 1930s, "all the hidden wealth which may be found in her minerals, her water resources, her parks, her forests, her history, her scenery, her climate, and all her other natural and physical attractions." Because "we are unaccustomed to the commercializing of scenery," another supporter put the discussion in more familiar terms for Virginians by suggesting that the "value of Virginia's scenery crop" could reach $100 million per year with the creation of a national park. This supporter also combined both rationales for establishing a park in the state.

This proposed National Park has been referred to as Virginia's greatest advertising opportunity. It most certainly is. But there are other considerations that will be held quite as close to the hearts of a large number of Virginians: Here is an opportunity for Virginia to make another constructive contribution to the National welfare...The teeming cities of the east have never heard the call of a nearby designated range of God's own...[W]e must open our minds to the providential endowment that enables us to contribute to Americanization, education, physical reconstruction and clear pleasure; for we are 'within a day's ride of forty million inhabitants.'"4

Over the course of 1924, the members of the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee visited the Blue Ridge, where George Freeman Pollock hosted them at Skyland. By the end of the year, the committee had agreed that an Eastern national park should be established in Virginia, and in December they recommended to Secretary Work that the most promising site for the park was in the Blue Ridge area between Front Royal and Waynesboro. The committee praised this area for its natural beauty and its proximity to the cities of the East. Additionally, the committee foreshadowed the pattern of development in the park when it noted that "The greatest single feature ...is a possible skyline drive along the mountain top following a continuous ridge and looking down westerly on the Shenandoah Valley...and also commanding a view of the Piedmont Plain stretching eastward to the Washington Monument, which landmark on our National Capitol may be seen on a clear day."5 In the wake of the committee's recommendations, Shenandoah Valley, Inc. sought to mobilize as much support as possible for a Virginia park. In January 1925, five hundred Valley residents traveled to Washington, D.C., for a mass meeting designed to demonstrate to the nation's political leaders the strong local support for the park. Secretary Work addressed the meeting, after which the attendees gained an audience at the White House with President Coolidge to promote their cause. Over the course of the next sixteen months, a bill authorizing the creation of the park slowly worked its way through Congress. Finally, in May 1926 Congress passed and Coolidge signed into law a bill authorizing the creation of the 521,000 acre Shenandoah National Park. The bill mandated that no federal moneys be used to purchase the park lands; instead, state and private funds would have to be utilized to make the purchases. Consequently, the park, did not immediately spring into existence, for it would not officially obtain national park status until the state transferred title of a certain minimum amount of acreage to the United States. While Congress reduced this minimum acreage figure on several occasions, it took the state nearly ten years to complete the necessary land purchases.6

With authorization of the park won, the struggle to create the park shifted gears. No longer did supporters have to devote all of their efforts to making the case for the park's value. Now, they could focus on the more mundane but ultimately more difficult tasks of obtaining the necessary funds to purchase the intended park land and dealing with the people who resided on this land. Two new organizations moved to the forefront of the campaign at this junc ture, the Shenandoah National Park Association, a private group of local elites which assumed a leading role in the fundraising drive, and the Commission on Conservation and Development, a state aency given the task of handling the legal issues involved in acquiring the land.7

The Commission on Conservation and Development:Reducing the size of the proposed park was the commission's first mission. Its chairman, William E. Carson, quickly had realized that the commission would have difficulty raising the funds necessary to purchase the land. Carson believed that park boosters who had suggested that the 521,000 acres could be bought for roughly two million dollars had grossly underestimated the market value of the land. In his view, the 3,250 houses which sat on the 5,620 different tracts of land would command upwards of $6 million dollars. To curtail the cost of land purchases, Carson prevailed upon Congress in 1928 to reduce the minimum acreage needed for the park to be established to 321,000 acres. This action did not solve the commission's problems, for it still had to deal with the owners of several thousand individual tracts of land. Complicating matters was the fact many residents did not own proper title to their land and were uncertain as to the exact boundaries of their property. Reflecting on the difficulties which the commission would face in acquiring this land, Carson lamented, only partially in jest, that "We felt we had had wished on us the most impossible proposition that ever was landed on the shoulders of any Virginia Commission...We took our troubles to...the Governor, and frankly told him we had stepped into the biggest mess that any hard headed lot of men ever allowed to be wished on them, and that the best thing that he could do with the Conservation and Development Commission was to have them all committed to one of the state lunatic asylums."8

Blanket Condemnation:More seriously, Carson bemoaned the arduousness of trying to acquire land from so many different individuals, and, in fact, he ruled out the possibility of making separate agreements with each landowner. "It was manifestly hopeless to undertake to acquire the necessary area by direct purchase," he explained, because "any of the thousands of owners or claimants could hold up the entire project unless paid exorbitant and unfair prices, with jury trials, appeals, and all the endless delays which can be injected into ordinary condemnation proceedings by selfish, stubborn and avaricious litigants." To avoid such an ordeal, Carson urged the legislature to pass a blanket condemnation law which would allow the state to acquire the necessary land by filing a single condemnation suit in each of the eight counties, a law which would allow the state to purchase the land by right of eminent domain. The idea for such an approach to the land issue came from Carson's brother, A.C. Carson, who was familiar with blanket condemnation laws from his service as a judge on the Philippines Supreme Court from 1904 to 1920, the years shortly after the United States' victory in the Spanish-American War brought the nation possession of the islands. There, a blanket condemnation law was used to compensate the Catholic Church for the 400,000 acres which Philippine peasants had appropriated during and after the war. Rather than forcing the peasants from the land, an impossible task, the U.S. government allowed the peasants to remain and paid the Vatican the appraised value of the land. A.C. Carson convinced his brother that a similar maneuver would work in the Blue Ridge, and in March 1928 William Carson persuaded the state legislature to pass the Public Park Condemnation Act. The Act called on the state to file a single condemnation suit in each of the eight affected counties and to form a three-person Board of Appraisal Commissioners to assess the value of each tract in the counties. While the law did not take affect until after the Warren County Circuit Court rejected landowner Thomas J. Rudacille's lawsuit challenging its constitutionality in October 1929, it was the commission's primary instrument for acquiring land for the future park.9

While the blanket condemnation law helped to bring order to the potentially chaotic land acquisition process, Carson and other park proponents still had to raise the money to purchase the land. Financial support for the project came from many different sources. Approximately $1 million came from state appropriations at the urgings of Governor Byrd. Private donations were an equally important source of funds. Led by the Shenandoah National Park Association, park backers initiated a campaign aimed at persuading Virginians from around the state to contribute to the land fund. With a slogan advocating that Virginians "Buy an Acre" for $6.00, the fundraising drive raised nearly $1.2 million dollars, including nearly $200,000 from Richmond citizens and $100,000 from residents of Norfolk. Park enthusiasts had less success in persuading noted philanthropists to make donations. Carson had hoped to raise $2 million dollars from these notable figures, but only won a small percentage of that amount: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave $163,631; Edsel Ford, $50,000; the Ball Brothers of Indiana, $5,000; and the estate of Thomas Edison, $250. With celebrity philanthropists largely absent from the list of supporters and with the onset of the Depression in 1930 sharply curtailing other fundraising efforts, park supporters had raised only slightly more than half of the estimated $4 million dollars needed to purchase the 321,000 acres. Consequently, Carson once again prevailed upon Congress to reduce the park's size. In 1932, Congress made its final acreage reduction, drastically reducing the minimum acreage needed for the park to be established to 160,000 acres, less than one-third the original congressional authorization mandated.10

The acreage reduction greatly improved the chances that the park would become a reality. So, too, did the decision to build a roadway through the center of the proposed park, a decision which itself was a consequence of William Carson's successful courting of presidential support for the park. Carson believed that the best way to win this support was to persuade the president that the area's scenery and rustic beauty made it an ideal site for a presidential retreat. Carson first lobbied Calvin Coolidge on situating a camp in the park, but to no avail. Herbert Hoover, however, expressed interest in the idea, especially when Carson told the president, an avid fisherman, of the excellent trout fishing in the area. Shortly thereafter, Hoover and his wife led an entourage of aides into the park to search for a site, "tramp[ing] a distance of between four and five miles along the river banks, after which they mounted horses and rode an additional five miles," one commentator noted. Eventually, Hoover selected a spot on the Rapidan River for what would become a 164-acre presidential camp.11

Skyline Drive and the CCC:Once Hoover had chosen the area for his camp, Carson set two hundred men to work building a road to the relatively inaccessible site. This project served to revive interest in building a road which traversed the park, a "skyline drive" which the Southern Appalachian Mountains Commission had envisioned in 1924 when it recommended the Blue Ridge for the national park. Carson argued that a paved road was needed to quickly and safely carry the president between his camp and the White House. To those in Congress who scoffed at the idea of using taxpayer money to build what they considered a private road for the president, Carson stressed that the road was necessary to publicize the park. He also argued that building a road could provide work relief for mountain families victimized by the drought which had stricken Virginia in the summer of 1930. Because the drought had destroyed much of their crops as well as severely damaged Valley apple orchards, thereby reducing the number of people who would be able to find work in the orchards in the fall, many families desperately would need assistance. Carson's arguments were persuasive: in 1930, Hoover backed a bill which allowed for the use of drought relief funds to build the first segment of Skyline Drive, a twelve-mile stretch from Panorama (at Highway 211) to George Freeman Pollock's Skyland at Swift Run Gap.12

Construction of the road began in the summer of 1931. By the end of 1932, Congress had allocated more than a million dollars to extend the highway both toward Front Royal in the North and Jarman's Gap, near Waynesboro, in the South. People were fascinated with the road and endlessly celebrated it as a feat of engineering. The absence of steep grades or sharp curves, the "natural rock maintaining wall," the "chestnut guard-rails," and the 600-foot-long tu nnel near Thornton Gap awed politicians, the public, and the press. Initially, local men were well represented among the highway workers; in 1931, 106 locals worked on the road.13 As time passed and the project grew, area men continued to work on the project but they were overshadowed by the influx of outsiders who labored for the Civilian Conservation Corps.

One of the most popular of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs, the CCC put unemployed young men to work in parks and forests around the nation. Over the course of its life, the CCC employed 2.5 million men in more two thousand rural camps. The first "CCC Boys" arrived in the Shenandoah in May 1933, and soon approximately 1,000 of them were based at six camps within the soon-to-be-established park. Much of their work focused on Skyline Drive; "CCC Boys," for instance, built overlooks and stonewalls on the drive as well as constructed guardrails. They also performed a variety of other functions in the park, including clearing trails, building campgrounds and picnic areas, and fighting the occasional forest fires. And in September 1934, when the first thirty-three miles of the road were opened to the public--a fifteen mile paved section from Panorama to Hawksbill and an eighteen-mile unpaved segment from Hawksbill to Swift Run Gap--"CCC Boys" could be found at roadway entrances and special interest areas directing traffic and answering questions.14 And there were plenty of questions for them to answer, as in the first five weeks an estimated 50,000 people had traveled the road. Many of these visitors undoubtedly concurred with one park booster who gushed, "This highway for sheer magnificence of mountain and Valley scenery surpasses anything of its kind in America. It is held a rival to the scenic highways of Switzerland. Thrill after thrill makes the heart beat faster as one slowly motors along this mountain trail."15

The Story of the Removals:For all the benefits which flowed from the decision to build Skyline Drive--from erasing any doubts that the park would become a reality to ensuring Shenandoah's popularity with the public--the new roadway did not resolve the question of what to do about the hundreds of families living within the intended borders of the park. This issue had troubled local elites and the federal officials who would come to over see the park since 1924 and the first discussions about creating the park. Park supporters considered a wide range of options for dealing with the issue: forcing all the residents to leave the land, requiring them to sell their land to the state but permitting them to continue to reside in their homes, allowing some residents to remain but insisting that others move, permitting all the residents who wanted to stay to do so. Gradually, the notion that the mountain residents were an obstacle to the creation of the park and that they would have to be "dealt with" gained adherents and began to shape policy discussions. And since the residents themselves came to be seen as the problem, they were not consulted or afforded the opportunity to contribute to the discussions which would affect their lives so profoundly.

The prevailing stereotypes and negative assumptions about mountain residents underlay this approach toward the people of the area. Most everyone from local businessmen and politicians to state officials in Richmond to congressmen and bureaucrats in Washington considered mountain inhabitants an uncivilized and benighted people. Such generalizations, however, are as grossly inaccurate as they are unkind. The people of the Blue Ridge were not ignorant or stupid. And while some may have been poor, they were not consigned to a life of poverty because of certain supposed character flaws. Nor did they wallow in their poverty. Rather, they did the best with what they had and, like people everywhere, drew strength from their families, their friends, and the communities in which they lived. Unfortunately, stereotypes of mountain residents persisted, largely because park boosters found them so convenient for their own plans.

Still, it is important to note that making a living could be quite difficult in the mountains. Nearly all of the park inhabitants worked the land for a living. Because upwards of 90% of the park land was owned by non-residents, including large businesses such as the Eagle Hardwood Lumber Company and a New York insurance company, most mountain families lived as share renters or tenants who cultivated less than five acres of land, tended the landowners' cattle, and earned approximately $100-$150 a year. Resident landowners, about 40% of the population, held only approximately 7% of the land in the park and typically engaged in subsistence farming. By the early 1930s, the mountain residents' situation had begun to worsen as a result of declining soil fertility and severe drought. In addition to causing their own crops to wither, the drought damaged the apple orchards in the valley, which meant that fewer people would be able find work as pickers in the fall, work many residents depended on for the extra cash it brought. Likewise, the closing of mills in the area and the growing automation of the few nearby industrial operations, such as the Crimora Manganese Mine in Augusta County, deprived some residents of non-farm work.16

Most park supporters labelled mountain residents as poor and asserted that they lacked drive, ambition, and initiative. In 1935, park official James R. Lassiter derided the residents for their lack of "independence and resourcefulness" as well as for their "dependence on outside help."17 Moreover, many believed that the remoteness of their homes had deprived mountain families of electricity, indoor plumbing, and numerous other benefits of modernity. In short, these boosters suggested, living in isolated hollows had made mountaineers relics of an earlier time. This led some outsiders to consider them cultural curiosities, people whose unique traditions and unusual dialects provided a quaint reminder of how Americans used to live. "Nothing is more fascinating or more interesting in the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains...than the native people who live there," declared a promotional booklet for the park. "Their manner of living and customs of speech are more nearly like the Eighteenth century than any other age to which it might be compared. Many of their phrases of speech are of the manner and wording of Chaucer's time." 18

The park boosters' views of the mountain families as isolated and backward ignored much of the availble evidence that contradicted these false characterizations. Mountain residents did not consider themselves isolated, but instead living in a beautiful region where they worked the land and communicated with their neighbors. Like so many other Virginians in the region, mountain residents took crops to market, worked in various industries, and attended local churches and schools. Far from isolated and backward, they lived as most Virginians did, connected to family, church, school, businesses, and friends in a largely rural area. Most Virginians did not have either electricity or indoor plumbing in the twenties and thirties, and most rural areas only became electrified in the 1940s. In many respects mountain families were no different than their counterparts in other parts of rural Virginia.

When combined though, the views that the residents of the Blue Ridge were culturally deformed and possessed of deep character flaws served to fuel the sentiment for removal, the belief that the residents had to be required to leave their homes in order for the park to be successful. The most important adherent to this position was National Park Service official Arno Cammerer. Cammerer's views about the mountain people were hardly unusual for the time. Nor were they a secret. In 1930, for instance, he explained that "There is no person so canny as certain types of mountaineers, and none so disreputable." What was unusual, however, was that Cammerer was in a position to act on his views that residents' character and culture necessitated their removal. On February 1, 1934, Cammerer, then director of the park service, announced that the federal government would not accept land for the park from the state until all the residents had departed the area.19

Cammerer's announcement had the effect of clarifying the policy toward those who resided within the future park's boundaries. But carrying out the removals proved to be a very difficult task, for numerous residents had no desire to leave their homes. To be sure, some residents did not oppose leaving. In 1932, Miriam Sizer, an Orange County social worker, conducted a survey of residents in five hollows and found that roughly half of them had positive feelings about moving. Throughout the eight counties which encompassed the park, in fact, many people had voluntarily departed in the years before 1934 either because they did not want to live in a national park or because they feared, correctly, that they eventually would be compelled to leave. The majority of mountain residents, however, steadfastly wanted to remain on their land. Even after passage of the state's blanket condemnation law, the residents expected to be able to remain. Some state officials had expected this as well, and, as a means of encouraging cooperation with the condemnation law, they had suggested that the residents could stay in their homes after the state had purchased the land. That the new removal policy inspired resistance which delayed the creation of the park was obvious to William Carson. Though his intent was to demonstrate the obstacles the Commission on Conservation and Development had to overcome in creating the park, Carson, writing in 1935, also revealed that opposition to the removal policy was widespread. "From beginning to the end, the acquisition...was a disagreeable and abhorrent job. Resistance was encountered at every point. It was not to our taste or liking to dispossess thousands of people from their lands, and to forcibly eject them from their homes or to be at dagger's point with our mountain neighbors. ...Time and again we were threatened with sudden death by infuriated landowners. ...If the Park will give the people of Virginia half the enjoyment it gave us anxiety and tribulation it will be a mountain of content."20

The breathless and self-sacrificial tone of Carson's words not withstanding, many people bitterly resented the removal process. Not all of the opposition to removal sprang from the same source or grew out of the same concerns. Certainly, many residents genuinely did not want to move; they enjoyed their lives in the mountains and wanted to continue to reside where they always had lived. In the view of some residential and absentee landowners, however, the terms of removal, rather than the concept itself, had raised their ire. These people, especially those with substantial holdings, firmly believed that the state had undervalued their land during the appraisal process mandated by the blanket condemnation law. The belief that the assessed value of their land was unfairly low also helped to drive small landowners opposition to removal. While some of them did not want to move under any circumstances, those who were amenable to departing were reluctant to do so since the amount the state offered for their land would not be enough to make a new start elsewhere. Indeed, because the Depression had caused land values to plummet, large and small landowners alike believed they were being forced to sell at a time when it would be impossible for them to receive fair value for their land. Moreover, since tracts were appraised individually, land values varied from parcel to parcel. While the state ultimately paid, on average, approximately $12.50 per acre, some owners received as much as $131 per acre and others as little as $1 per acre. Disparities between counties were stark; in Greene, landowners received an average of $13.96 per acre, vastly more than the $1.68 per acre the average Augusta owner received. Many individuals whose land was valued at the lower end of the range were infuriated because they believed the state had appraised their land based on its agricultural potential rather than on its value to the park. These owners knew that their land, whet her tucked away in an isolated hollow or perched on a hillside overlooking the Valley, would be a prized possession for the park. State officials knew that too, which was an important reason why they advocated shrinking the park's boundaries from 521,000 acres to 160,000. They were glad to forgo purchasing relatively expensive fertile lowlands which were of little scenic value and instead concentrate on purchasing cheap mountain lands which afforded spectacular views.21

Landowners registered their opposition to removal in a variety of ways. Because the legislature had passed the condemnation law in 1928, some of this opposition manifested itself prior to Cammerer's 1934 order. By 1933, for instance, individuals owning a cumulative 20,000 acres of land had contested the appraised value of their land, forcing the state to hold appeal hearings for each complaint. By the time the park was created, one in eight landowners had challenged the state's valuation of their land. While only a minority of individuals won higher appraisals, the lengthy appeals process slowed the state's acquisition of lands. So, too, did the lawsuit filed against the state filed by Robert H. Via, the owner of a 150-acre orchard in Albemarle County. Though he had moved to a farm near Hershey, Pennsylvania, in 1928, Via had retained ownership of the orchard. In 1934 he sued the state on grounds that the condemnation law violated his 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection and that the state had no right to take his private property and give it to the federal government. While the District Court ruled against him, arguing that the principle of eminent domain gave the state the right to achieve, by whatever means it chose, "the furtherance of the health, pleasure and recreational facilities of its people," Via appealed his decision all the way to the nation's highest court. In November 1935, the Supreme Court rejected Via's appeal of the lower court ruling. Nonetheless, his determined opposition to the condemnation law had slowed the land acquisition process.22

Via's challenging of the law through the courts was unique. But the sentiments which drove him to sue were not. While few landowners had the means or inclination to wage a protracted legal battle against the state, many found other ways to make known their opposition to the condemnation law and the removal process. Believing that they could find strength in numbers, some landowners banded together to fight the takings. Led by Lewis Willis, these owners organized the Landowners' Protective Association in 1929, a short-lived attempt to bring together a disparate group of individuals. Others appealed directly to state political leaders for help. A distressed Elkton resident, for instance, complained to the governor that he had been offered too little for his land and that, at any rate, he did not want to leave because he had nowhere to go.23 Some letter writers focused on the higher principles at stake in the dispute rather than the compensation they were offered. In 1933, H. M. Cliser of Beahm, defiantly wrote Governor Pollard, "I am relying wholly on the Constitution in this matter; therefore have nothing to arbitrate." Lewis Willis made his case directly to the White House, writing to President Hoover that "We are unwilling to part with our homes to help a small part of our population to get their hands into tourists' pockets."24

Occasionally, confrontations between local authorities and landowners opposed to removal occurred. Adamant about staying in their homes, these residents ignored repeated requests, and then demands, to vacate their land. As a result, local law enforcement officials forcibly had to remove these families. In October 1935, the local sheriff and his deputies evicted Melanchton Cliser and his family from their home along U.S. 211, where they owned forty-six ac res and operated a gas station. To carry out the eviction, the sheriff and his deputies handcuffed Cliser, removed the family's belongings from the house, and then sealed it closed. Such events were not commonplace; they occurred infrequently enough to merit newspaper coverage when they did happen. Some tenants also endured forced removals. In one notorious case, sheriffs forcibly evicted tenant Walker Jenkins and his family from their Big Meadows home, tearing down their house in the process. Removal was disastrous for tenant families, for they bore all of the burdens and received none of the benefits, such as they were, of the process. While landowners at least received some payment for their property, removal required tenants to move but offered them no compensation. Consequently, some tenants, like Jenkins, refused to leave their homes except by force, and others delayed the inevitable for as long as possible by moving into newly vacated homes nearby.25

On the day after Christmas 1935, the federal government officially accepted title to 176,429.8 acres of land from Virginia, well over the 160,000 acre minimum threshold Congress had set for the park. The following summer, on July 3, Franklin Roosevelt and thousands of others participated in the official dedication ceremony at Big Meadows. Although approximately 300 families still remained in the park, the removal process was well on its way. By early 1938, fewer than four years after Cammerer issued the removal order, between 500 and 600 families permanently had left their homes in the park. 26 Most of the families removed came from Madison, Page, and Rappahannock, the counties which contributed the most acres--more than 30,000 each--to the park. But not everyone had to depart their land. In 1934, the park service compiled a secret list of forty-three families of "aged and especially meritorious" people who were permitted to remain on their land, rent free, after selling their property to the state. Although deaths pruned the list as time passed, some people remained for many years. Lewis Willis, who had organized the Landowners' Protective Association, remained in the park until his death in the late 1950s, when he was in his nineties. The last to die was Annie Lee Bradley Shenk in 1979 at age 92, thirty-three years after her much older husband had died.27

Shenk, Willis, and the others on the secret list were exceptional cases, for the vast majority of residents left the park in the mid-1930s. Most of these people left their homes quietly. As eighty-five-year-old Hezekiah Lam explained, "I ain't so crazy about leavin' these hills but I never believed in bein' ag'in the Government. I signed everythin' they asked me." Those were just the words park backers wanted to hear, and as is if to show their commitment to the displaced people and to prove that the former residents supported the removal, they allowed Lam, who one publication condescendingly lauded for "his quaint speech and honest ruggedness," to sit on the platform with the president during the dedication ceremony.28 Lam, though, had more respect for his government than many of its officials had for him, for as the residents left, the park service moved to eradicate the evidence of their tenure on the land, burning and tearing down many of the structures in the park. The park's superintendent, James Lassiter, led the way in this effort, for he believed it was his job to return the land to its natural, pre-human condition as quickly as possible. Had the mountain people formed a unique culture or made a lasting contribution to "civilization," Lassiter would have advocated preservation rather than destruction. But he and others believed the people had left behind little of value. Writing about the residents' homes but making a larger negative point about the people themselves, one booster suggested wrongly that the typical family had lived in "a single room, with perhaps one or two windows, many of which contain no frame or glass, and no conception of screens. ...In the milder months the flies, the chickens, the cats and the dogs, and the family, usually large, all shared this single unit." In fact, only eighteen of five hundred homes had one room. Nevertheless, this booster suggested, the removal was a beneficial development in the lives of the mountain people. Upon leaving their homes, this advocate explained, the residents "purchased small tracts of land in the adjacent valleys which are much more suitable from all standpoints than their rock and stump bound ridge land could ever hope to be."29

Over the course of the 1930s, these small tracts of land came to embody many park backers' best hopes for helping the former residents cope with their removal from the park. If these backers cheered the removal process for clearing the way for the federal takeover of the park, they also worried that without federal help the ignorant and poverty-stricken people would have trouble starting their lives anew. While the belief that the displaced residents' character and lack of education would hamper their ability to survive was a dubious proposition reflecting only the negative stereotypes of the people of the mountains, it was true that many lacked the financial means to make a fresh start elsewhere. Park backers believed that helping the residents settle on small plots of land nearby not only would help them to survive but would introduce them to the benefits of modern living. The effort to resettle park inhabitants, though, generated considerable opposition. Some of the intended recipients strongly disliked the new living arrangements and quickly moved away. Harry Byrd, the state's political leader, condemned the newly created communities for their resemblance to socialistic social planning schemes. Nonetheless, resettlement emerged as the main federal strategy for dealing with the former residents.

Social worker Miriam Sizer was one of the first to promote the concept of resettlement. Sizer, who in 1932 had surveyed park residents about the prospect of removal, believed that though many were not against moving they were ill-prepared for such a major alteration to their lives. As a result, she suggested that the government help find new homes for the people, preferably nearby, where the climate was similar and where they could grow the same crops as they had in the mountains. Long-time park booster L. Ferdinand Zerkel also championed the idea of resettlement. Zerkel, an employee in the Interior Department's Federal Homestead Corporation, the New Deal agency which would have jurisdiction over such a project, worked hard to bring the resettlement plans to life. As envisioned by Zerkel, the FHC would help park residents purchase tracts in communities created by the federal government. Full-time farmers would be allowed fifty-acre plots. Part-time farmers, who would also be expected to work in local industries, would purchase twenty-acres of land. Zerkel quickly set to work locating land for the communities, and in 1934 the FHC made its first purchase, buying 343 acres in Ida, just west of Hawksbill Mountain in Page County. The project, though, was immediately ensnared in bureaucratic red tape, as the solicitor general of the Interior Department ruled that the purchase violated federal law, which only authorized homesteads for refugees from urban centers. Acting on the solicitor general's recommendation, Interior Department Secretary Harold Ickes shut the project down.30

The project did not fade away, however, in no small measure because it had the support of Ickes as well as the president and the first lady. Shortly after its demise within the Interior Department, Roosevelt resurrected the homestead project by giving authority for the program to the Resettlement Administration. Led by Rexford Tugwell, the RA ensured that the homesteads became a reality. The RA altered the original plans for the homesteads, most notably by drastically reducing the average plot size to 2-5 acres, on the assumption that people would farm for themselves part-time and work in local agricultural or industrial enterprises part-time. Locally appointed boards were given responsibility for choosing who would be allowed to participate in the program. Since the federal government did not provide land free of charge but, through low-interest loans, assisted people with the financing of their plots, the homesteads primarily were reserved for those with some income or savings to contribute toward the cost of the land. State welfare agencies, though, helped a smaller number of cash-strapped people obtain homesteads by purchasing the land for them and requiring that they pay $5 per month in rent. With these plans in place, construction began in earnest at Ida Valley Farms in Ida and at the six other homesteads sites Zerkel had located--at the C.I.B. School near Standardsville in Greene; at Wolftown and Madison in Madison; at Flint Hill and Washington in Rappahannock; and at Elkton in Rockingham.31

Despite the RA's success in getting the homestead project off the ground, bureaucratic struggles over the program continued, and in the fall of 1937, the Farm Security Administration assumed authority over the project. This transfer did not slow the project's work, as shortly thereafter, on October 18, 1937, the first residents began moving into the homesteads. Logistically, the moves were not easy affairs, as families, often with the help of CCC workers, had to move all of their possessions, including animals, by car and truck down winding mountain roads to their new homes. Altogether, 172 families moved into the homesteads, though the difficulties involved in making the move combined with delays in opening some of the later homesteads, meant that the last resettlements did not occur until 1938.32

Reactions to the new homes varied among both residents and political leaders. While national Democrats such as Roosevelt and Ickes proudly supported the program, Harry Byrd railed against it as part of his campaign against the New Deal. The planned community aspect of the homesteads particularly angered Byrd prompting him to label the program communistic. Moreover, the cost of the program--an estimated $6,000 per homestead for the land, water, livestock, houses, and furnishings--offended the fiscally conservative Byrd's sense of what was appropriate. Byrd was convinced that "these splendid people" could live happily without such modern touches as "electricity, refrigeration, factory-made furniture, and indoor privies," and he complained that the program was "a permanent monument to a waste and extravagance such as has never been seen before." 33Some residents were as unenthusiastic about their new homes as Byrd. The Greene County homestead was particularly unpopular with people, for the French village-type system on which it was based, in which land was farmed cooperatively and homes clustered close together, appealed to few of the former inhabitants of isolated hollows. But others seemed to adapt well to their new homes, staying for many years. Edward S. Nicholson was one former resident who thought his new situation was much better than his life in the mountains, and he insisted that he "wouldn't go back if anyone gave me land there."34 Park boosters believed all those resettled shared such sentiments and that they were much happier in their new arrangements. As one put it:

"Back in the deep, dark pockets of the Blue Ridge Mountains--now parts of the Shenandoah National Park--a few years ago hikers used to stumble onto ragged, hungry families housed in windowless, tumbledown shanties and representing about the limit of destitution at which human life could be sustained. Today, in relatively fertile glens traversed by swift creeks at the foot of the mountains, picturesque villages of small farms have been erected. ...[I]f these former residents...hold any nostalgia for their mountain tops they have subdued their feelings to that of retrospect and are adjusting themselves to their new life and environment with the ideas of what the future may have in store for them."
Most residents, though, harbored more ambiguous feelings about how their lives had changed. While all missed their homes and their former lifestyle, many, almost despite themselves, also came to appreciate the flat, fertile land of the homesteads and, especially, the comforts of modern amenities, such as indoor plumbing, radio, and electricity. Perhaps the park boosters were correct in one respect: though many mountain people remained nostalgic for their mountain homes, returning to them grew less appea ling as time passed and as they adjusted themselves to the joys and frustrations of modern living.35

1 The eight counties are Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Madison, Greene, Albemarle, Rappahannock.

2 Benchoff, "Report to Arno B. Cammerer," 20 August 1934 (quotes) and "Shenandoah National Park Souvenir Book. Containing official photographs, history and descriptions of the first great national park of the East(Harrisonburg, VA. : Southern Appalachian National Park Commission, et. al., 1933), 14-15, both in Spec. Coll., U.Va.; William Ferris, editors (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 349. Of all the prominent supporters of the proposed national park, n one was more important than George Freeman Pollock. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s he tirelessly promoted the park, hosting influential policymakers and congressmen at his Skyland Resort and doing whatever he could to build support in the Commonwealth. As the owner of 5,371 acres at the center of what is now the park, Pollock, of course, had very obvious financial motives for working to create the park. For Pollock's rendition of his own history, see George Freeman Pollock, Skyland: The Heart of the Shenandoah National Park,(1960).

3 James R. Lassiter, "Shenandoah National Park," reprinted from The Commonwealth, July 1936, Spec. Coll., U.Va.

4 William E. Carson, transcript of "Radio Talk on the Shenandoah National Park, The Colonial National Monument, The Proposed State Seashore Park," made over station WRVA, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1932, and "Virginia's Proposed Natio nal park," ca. 1926, both in Spec. Coll., U.Va.

5 "A Brief History of the Beginning of the Movement for a National Park in Northern Virginia, Now Known as the Shenandoah National Park," 12-13, and "Virginia's Proposed National Park," 5(quote), both in Spec. Coll., U.Va. The com mittee also recommended the creation a national park in the Great Smokies Mountains of North Carolina.

6 In February 1925, Congress passed a bill calling for further investigation of the feasibility of establishing three national parks in the East--Shenandoah National Park, Great Smokies Mountains of North Carolina, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. "Shenandoah National Park Souvenir Book," 16; Benchoff, "Report to Arno B. Cammerer," 20 August 1934; Lassiter, "Shenandoah National Park," 3-4; and Virginia Conservation Commission, "Shenandoah National Park Project, Virginia , ca. 1933, 1, all in Spec. Coll., U.Va.; Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 394.

7 Benchoff, "Report to Arno B. Cammerer," 20 August 1934 and "Shenandoah National Park. Official Pictorial Book. Containing official photographs, history and description of the first great National park of the East" (Harrisonburg, Va.: Shenandoah National Park tourist Bureau, ca. 1929) 15-16, Spec. Coll., U.Va.; Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 393; Lambert, The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park, 208.

8 Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 395-396; William E. Carson, "State Commission on Conservation and Development," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 25-27 (quote p. 25)

9 Carson, "State Commission on Conservation and Development," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 25-27 (quote p. 28); "Shenandoah National Park Souvenir Book," 18-19; and Carson, transcr ipt of "Radio Talk on the Shenandoah National Park, The Colonial National Monument, the Proposed State Seashore Park;" Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 396-397; Simmons, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive , 1924-1936," 59; Martin-Perdue, "Clouds Over the Blue Ridge," 61; Andrew H. Myers, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park: Albemarle County Cultures in Conflict," The Magazine of Albemarle County History, 51 (1993), 80.

10 Lassiter, "Shenandoah National Park," 4; Crown, "The Shenandoah National Park," 91; "Shenandoah National Park Souvenir Book," 17-18; "Virginia Conservation Commission, "Shenandoah National Park Project, Virginia," 1; Virginia C onservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 29; Lambert, The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park, 216, 224.

11 Carter Wormeley, "Hoover on the Rapidan," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 80-81 (quote) and Carson, transcript of "Radio Talk on the Shenandoah National Park, The Colonial Nation al Monument, The Proposed State Seashore Park."

12 Arthur Davidson, "Skyline Drive and How it Came to Virginia," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 76-77 (quote p. 76); Simmons, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and the Skyli ne Drive, 1924-1936," 75-79

13 Hubbard K. Hinde, editor-in-chief, The Skyline Drive: Shenandoah National Park Travelogue: The Authentic, Official, Illustrated Guidebook for the Most Popular National Park of the East (Luray, Va.: Sky-Ray Publishing Co., 1938) , 23-24 (quotes); Virginia Conservation Commission, "Shenandoah National Park Project, Virginia," 1-2; Davidson, "Skyline Drive and How it Came to Virginia," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 77, all from Spec . Coll, U.Va.; Lambert, The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park, 218-222.

14 On the CCC in Shenandoah National Park, see Lassiter, "Shenandoah National Park," 4-6; John A. Conners, Shenandoah National Park: an Interpretive Guide (Blacksburg, Va.: The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Co., 1988), 9 6; Patrick Clancy, "Conserving the Youth: The Civilian Conservation Corps Experience in the Shenandoah National Park," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 105:4 (1997), 439-470. For more general treatments of the CCC, see Leuchtenburg , Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940, 53, 187; John A. Salmond, The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942: A New Deal Case Study (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1967); Harvard Sitkoff, "The Impact of the New Deal on Bl ack Southerners," in The New Dealand the South, James C. Cobb and Michael V. Namorato, editors (Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1984), 123-124; Badger, The New Deal 170, 206, 253.

15 Simmons, The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936, 151-152; John R. Crown, "The Shenandoah National Park," in Virginia Conservation Commission, Conserving and Developing Virginia, 92.

16 See Simmons, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 131-132, 136-143, 199-292; Conners, Shenandoah Naional Park, 89; Myers, "The C reation of Shenandoah National Park," 55-67.

17 Lassiter quoted in Perdue and Martin-Perdue, "Appalachian Fables and Facts," 88-89.

18 "Shenandoah National Park," 41(quote); Myers, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park," 67-79; Perdue and Martin-Perdue," Appalachian Fables and Facts," 90.

19 Cammerer quoted in Simmons, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 130.

20 Lambert, The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park, 232-233; Simmons, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 136-143; Myers, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park," 84-85; Simmon s, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 401-402; Martin-Perdue, "Clouds Over the Blue Ridge," 61; Carson, "State Commission on Conservation and Development," 23.

21 Martin-Perdue, "Clouds Over the Blue Ridge," 80. In Madison, Page, and Rappahannock, the counties which provided the most land for the park, the state paid owners an average of $8-$11 per acre. Perdue and Martin-Perdue, "To B uild a Wall Around These Mountains," 53.

22 "Shenandoah National Park Souvenir Book," 18; Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 224-225, 234-240 (quote p. 239); Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 132-133. VIA v. STATE COMMISSION ON CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT, 296 U.S. 549; 56 S. Ct. 245.

23 Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 229-230; Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 133-134.

24 Cliser quoted in Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 128; Willis quoted in Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 231. 25 Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 243-249; Forced removals did not occur in every country. In Albemarle, for instance, most families departed quickly. By 1934, only twelve families remained in the Albemarle section of the park, and none of them had to be forcibly removed. Myers, "The Creation of Shenandoah National Park," 84-85. 26 Hinde, The Skyline Drive, 30-33. It is impossible to determine the exact number of families, and therefore, people, removed from the park during these years owing to the absence of reliable data. As a result, scholars have often different estimated figures. Dennis Simmons suggested that 600 families (3,000 to 4,000 people) resided in the park at the time of Cammerer's announcement in February 1934. Darwin Lambert, citing a census taken of the area in 1934, put the number of families at 465. But as Lambert noted, it is likely that more families were removed than that given the mobility and frequent invisibility of tenant families. In 1935, officials found that 219 of the 465 families on the 1934 census were no longer in the park. Nonetheless, they counted 336 families on the park land, 90 more than expected after accounting for the 219 departures. Where did these extra families come from? Were these enumeration mistakes? Did marriages create new families? Did some new tenants move into recently vacated homes in the park? It is impossible to know. Thus, it is likely that somewhere between the 600 families Simmons implied left the park and the 500 families the Perdues suggested actually departed lies the true number. Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 400; Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 241-253; Perdue and Martin-Perdue, "Appalachian Fables and Facts," 91.

27 Perdue and Martin-Perdue, "Appalachian Fables and Facts," 91; Perdue and Martin-Perdue, "To Build a Wall Around These Mountains," 53; Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 231, 254-255.

28 Quotes from Hinde, The Skyline Drive, 32.

29 Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 168-171; Hinde, The Skyline Drive, 31-32.

30 Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 136-145; Simmons, "Conservation, Cooperation, and Controversy," 403; Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 2 49.

31 Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 242-253; Johnson, Mountaineers to Main Streets, 15; Martin-Perdue, "Clouds Over the Blue Ridge," 62.

32 Ibid.; "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 163-166.

33 Byrd quotes from Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 165 and Johnson, Mountaineers to Main Streets, 16.

34 Lambert, The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National Park, 253; Simmons, "The Creation of the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, 1924-1936," 203 (quote).

35 Hinde, The Skyline Drive, 43.