President Theodore Roosevelt has had a lasting legacy in the area, thanks to his dealings in conservation and the creation of Shawnee State Park and Lake Roosevelt.
Now, 100 years later, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is inviting the public to a day of history and fun in celebrating the president on this very special anniversary.
Visitors can spend the day listening to music, playing old-fashioned games, trying out fishing and paddling and other outdoor sports, and even meet “Theodore Roosevelt” in person, who will be onsite during the event.
Visit Smoky Bear, learn about the history of the land, or check out ODNR vehicles at the Touch-a-Truck area. People can begin or end their visit with a sweet treat at the old-fashioned ice cream social.
The free event will be hosted by ODNR’s Division of Wildlife, Division of Forestry, and Division of Parks and Watercraft to celebrate 100 years of conservation on this land and remembering Roosevelt.
The preserve was dedicated in 1922, in hopes of replenishing natural resources and wildlife and even served as a propagation area.
According to ODNR, a propagation area is a designated place used to reproduce a species. The preserve housed ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, deer, partridges, and other wildlife. It was named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who had set aside land for national parks during his presidency, and was purchased with hunting license dollars
The land has an interesting 100-year history of conservation.
According to Scioto Historical, “In 1934, a segregated, all-black Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) unit of enrollees, known as Company 1545, dammed the waters of Mackletree Run and Turkey Creek, creating Roosevelt Lake, the centerpiece of a new state park in southern Ohio’s Scioto County.”
The CCC employed over three million men and this Corps was responsible for the creation of Roosevelt State Park, which has since been renamed Shawnee State Park.
The Scioto Historical website also cited the Portsmouth Daily Times, which wrote on the topic a year into its construction, “The job works about 185 enrollees of Camp Roosevelt, a colored veterans unit, eight hours a day and five days a week. The men receive $30 a month and board.”
In 1949, with the creation of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Parks and Recreation, the area became a state park and forest. Shawnee State Forest, also called “The Little Smokies of Ohio,” has developed into the largest of Ohio’s state forests with more than 60,000 acres. In 1949, the recreational facilities at Roosevelt Lake were transferred to the Division of Parks to eventually become Shawnee State Park, in honor of the Shawnee tribes who used the area as a hunting ground.
“For 100 years this area has served nature lovers and sportsmen alike and over those 100 years our dedication to protecting it has only grown stronger,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We wanted everyone to come and learn about its rich past, enjoy some live music and games, and experience some of the outdoor activities this land still has to offer.”
The event will be held at the Roosevelt Shelter House, Shawnee State Park Campgrounds, 5648 State Route 125 on Saturday, August 20, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.