Restorers want to restore some historic aspects of the camp
JANUARY 26, 2012 5:14 p.m. (0)
Buckhorn, one of the park’s most popular attractions, was closed in late 2010 so that park workers could begin the renovation of the 75-year-old facility, said Jason Hege, park manager.
“In addition to bringing the structure up to code we wanted to restore some of the look it had as a CCC-build camp,” he said.
Civilian Conservation Corps workers built Buckhorn, as they did many of the park’s other facilities, in the closing days of the Great Depression, Hege said.
The renovation is being funded with about $340,000 in donations gathered through the Friends of Paris Mountain State Park.
“Add in the labor costs we’re saving by using park personnel and you can estimate the total worth of the work at about $700,000,” he said.
Buckhorn started as a camp for disadvantaged youth in the Greenville area, said Cathy Taylor, the park’s interpretive ranger.
“The CCC was here between 1935 and 1940,” she said.
Tucked away on the eastern side of the park, Buckhorn is located at the end of a long, winding road that snakes down from Buckhorn Gap, which is the trailhead for some of the park’s most popular paths.
“Originally the camp had a swimming lake (Lake Buckhorn, which still exists) and could hold about 40 persons comfortably,” Hege said. “There are shower facilities that still exist up there in addition to the cabins and main lodge.”
This phase of the renovations is concentrated on the lodge and the cabin that was used by the camp’s counselors and staff. There will also be extensive work done on landscaping.
“The lodge is finished now,” Hege said, “And we’re making good progress on the cabin.”
“Since Buckhorn is on the National Register of Historic Places park staff is being careful to restore the facility as close to the original as possible,” Hege said. “The lodge now has a shake roof, like the original and we will also put shake on the main cabin in this phase of renovation.”
Since money is tight for a project of this scope, Hege said he’s had to learn a lot about design since he’s been in charge of the project.
“It’s been fun and I think the public will be well-pleased with the results,” he said.
Over the years, Buckhorn has become a popular place for retreats and weddings, Hege said.
“We have a full-scale commercial kitchen in the lodge,” he said. “Buckhorn is in use probably for 48 weekends a year by one group or another. We’ve gone down there and seen as many as 200 to 300 people on hand for weddings.”
Once work is finished a new pricing schedule will go into effect for the camp. Prices have not been set yet, but Hege said the new pricing structure will be reasonable.
“That’s a big part of our mission here at PRT (Parks Recreation and Tourism),” he said. “We aim to provide the residents of the state with the best experience possible at a price they can afford.”