Shenandoah National Park focus of Historical Society’s Spring Meeting

Martha Bogle, superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, will lead the Augusta County Historical Society’s spring meeting in considering the history and future of the park, which celebrated its 75th Anniversary last year. Her talk, “Shenandoah National Park: 75 Historic Years & Growing,” is Sunday, March 18, at 3 p.m. at Wilson Memorial High School, Fishersville. All are welcome to attend free of charge.

“I love these mountains; they have held a special place in my heart my entire life,” Bogle says about Shenandoah National Park, making it “the perfect place for me.” As superintendent, she manages 197,411 acres of park land, 40 percent of which is Congressionally designated wilderness. She’s also responsible for the Skyline Drive, whose 105 miles wind along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park. Add to that more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She oversees about 250 employees and an operating budget of over $11 million. A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that more than 1. 2 million visitors in 2010 spent approximately $71.8 million in Shenandoah National Park and in nearby communities, supporting 1087 jobs.

The park’s territory has been part of the history of Augusta County from the first explorer of European heritage to visit the area. John Lederer, a German physician, and three Native American guides were sent westward in 1669 by the Virginia colony’s Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Berkeley. Based on the geographical knowledge of the day, the explorer and the governor hoped to find a passage to the Pacific or even the Indian Ocean. That hope went unfulfilled in all three of Lederer’s expeditions in 1669 and 1670, but his account of the journeys was published in London the following year. The area of the park also was visited in 1716 by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, first Anglo explorer of the Shenandoah Valley. It began to be settled after about 1745.

Shenandoah park’s territory was first developed as a private resort in the 1880s. Decades later President Herbert Hoover had a fishing retreat on the Rapidan River. It’s now inside the Park. In the 1930s the park was pieced together from over 3,000 individual tracts of land, purchased or condemned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and presented to the federal government. In the process, at least 500 families–described as almost completely cut off from the current of American life–were displaced in what was considered by some to be a humanitarian act. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park on July 3, 1936. It also is a National Historic Landmark, and 11 of its sites and 300 structures appear on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park exemplifies the movement of the 1920s and ‘30s to preserve and enhance natural resources and provide inexpensive public outdoor recreation. As a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park also was significant in federal efforts to relieve the Great Depression by providing employment for both skilled and unskilled workers. The design of the Skyline Drive became the standard for other national parkways, with its structure concealed by native elements and plantings, and with many overlooks and viewpoints providing varied vistas both local and as far as Kings Mountain, Tenn.

Martha Bogle was born and raised in Centerville, a small middle Tennessee community, and as a child visited relatives in the state’s mountains, where she lost her heart to their beauty. She admits to “a special connection” with mountains that makes Shenandoah National Park her perfect job. Prior to heading Shenandoah, Bogle was Deputy Superintendent of the 470-mile Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina.

Bogle’s first assignment was as a seasonal Park Ranger at Great Smoky Mountains park. From there her career spans more than three decades and every job at the National Park Service. She has worked at parks, historic sites, and wildlife refuges stretching from Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado, to Virgin Islands National Park, and even underground, at Mammoth Cave National Park. The superintendent earned a degree in botany at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

For more information contact ACHS at augustachs@ntelos.net or 540-248-4151.


AT A GLANCE

Who: Augusta County Historical Society

What: “Shenandoah National Park: 75 Historic Years & Growing,” a talk by Martha Bogle, Superintendent of Shenandoah National Park

When: Sunday, March 18, at 3 p.m.

Where: Wilson Memorial High School, Fishersville

Fee: Free

Directions: From U.S. 250 at Fishersville: turn north into Woodrow Wilson complex. Fork right onto 6th St., bear left to stay on 6th St., turn left onto 4th Ave., then first right.

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