Shawnee Park Nature Center

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Shawnee State Park Nature Center


Shawnee State Forest is host to a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Wildflowers are abundant including several rare types of orchids such as the tiny Whorled Pogonia and the Showy Orchis.

The forest is home to a variety of wildlife including a great diversity of birds and woodland creatures including many rare and endangered species.

Many examples of the unique wildlife, fauna and flora can be seen at the Shawnee State Park Nature Center.

Located near the Turkey Creek Lake boat ramp the center is open Memorial Day through Labor Day Tuesday through Saturday from 12PM - 3PM.   The center is staffed by naturalist who provide guided tours every season, answer questions and conduct many “hands-on” activities for visitors including excavating fossils to tasting edible foliage in the forest.

The nature center encourages natural resource and wildlife conservation and appreciation through education.

Restored 1935 era CCC Cabin that will be used as new Shawnee Park nature center and musem

Civil Conservation Corps 1933 - 1942

On March 31, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The CCC was part of Roosevelt's New Deal. Roosevelt hoped that his New Deal would allow Americans to cope with the Great Depression, would help end the current economic downturn, and would help prevent another depression from occurring in the future.

The Civilian Conservation Corps hired unemployed American men between 18 and 25 years of age to work on various government projects and eventually employed nearly three million men by the program's end in 1942.

Men of all races participated in the CCC, but workers were segregated into units based upon their race. During its peak the CCC employed 500,000 men including an average of fourteen thousand Ohioans per year.


More than 60 CCC camps were established in Ohio between 1933 and 1942. Some were temporary tent cities that were maintained long enough to complete a specific project, while others were permanent communities of barracks where the CCC corps members would provide an ongoing workforce in the area.

Six CCC camps were established within confines of what is today Shawnee State Park and Shawnee Forest including the segregated Camp Adams.

CCC projects focused upon road construction, flood control, reforestation, and soil erosion prevention.

CCC workers also improved or constructed local, state, and national parks. Government officials organized the CCC like a military unit, with workers living in camps, wearing uniforms, and serving in individual under the command of officers. CCC workers received thirty dollars per month in pay, but the government sent twenty-five dollars of that monthly income to the worker's family. The CCC covered the basic living expenses -- food, clothing, and housing -- for each worker. Government officials sent the bulk of a worker's income home to his family to help his relatives cope with the Great Depression.


Perhaps, among all of our state parks and state forests, Shawnee best epitomizes the social, environmental, and recreational benefits that are the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Ohio. At Shawnee, the CCC simply did it all.

There was certainly plenty of work to do. When the CCC first arrived on the scene in 1933, the Shawnee State Forest had been cobbled together over the past decade. It started in 1922 with a bedraggled 5,000-tract that had been cleared and burned for a failed cattle ranching operation, and was quickly expanded with a lushly wooded area nearby, designated as the Theodore Roosevelt Game Preserve. The mix of pristine wilderness and despoiled land posed a great opportunity for the CCC crews to a practice a variety of conservation measures, from aggressive tree planting and erosion control, to building trails and lakes

Much of the work accomplished by the CCC crews was a boon to the neighborhood. The vast network of roads that the first crews carved through the backwoods not only made the job easier for successive CCC crews, but also helped connect the communities in isolated hollows. The CCC created five lakes throughout the state forest, in addition to Roosevelt Lake, in the modern-day state park. The lakes quickly became prized sources of fresh surface water, serving as a ready and plentiful supply of water to combat forest fires and quench the thirst of the camp residents, as well as enhancing the forest habitat for wildlife, and providing a new recreational resource.

Having provided the necessary infrastructure for transportation, housing, and fire safety, the CCC crews were free to build facilities for recreation, including stone and timber picnic shelters. The gorgeous timbers for these impressive structures were hewn from locally harvested chestnut logs

Today, visitors to Shawnee State Park can marvel at a variety of the CCC’s accomplishments. Two fine examples of those artfully crafted shelter houses still exist beside Roosevelt Lake.

In celebration of the park’s rich history, the Shawnee State Park staff refurbished a tarnished 1922-vintage brass plaque commemorating the historic Roosevelt Game Preserve that had been shelved long ago. As a tribute to the CCC, the park’s maintenance crew built a beautiful stone monument, reminiscent of the authentic stone work, to display the plaque in a place of honor at the Roosevelt Lake shelter house.

In the summer of 2008 the park staff another salvaged CCC-era gem one of the original, rustic cabins that had served as a residence at one of the abandoned CCC camps in the state forest was carefully dismantled and moved to the location of the current nature center and reassembled.

The 1935-vintage cabin, lovingly made of chestnut logs, will serve as the park’s new and improved nature center and a museum of the park’s history.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those legions of young Americans who signed up for New Deal programs, grateful for the opportunity to make a few dollars. With the sweat of their brow, they shaped our state parks.

By serving as the hands and feet of our nation’s first conservation movement, they shaped the very fabric of our society. By helping to pull themselves and their families out of poverty, they have made us all richer than they may ever know.

*Sources- K.Bradbury, J.Backs, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources