Appalachian Trail Histories

African American campers enjoy Lewis Mountain campground, Shenandoah National Park. Lewis Mountain was a segregated campground for African Americans that operated from 1937-1941, closed during WWII and reopened in 1945. Lewis Mountain and the rest of the Park's facilities were finally desegregated by 1950

Visitors to Lewis Mountain.jpg

African American Visitors on a bus tour to Shenandoah National Park in 1950. Their sign reads "Educational Tour and Picnic to Shenandoah National Park. Even though the park was desegregated by 1950, Jim Crow segregation laws still existed outside the park. Transportation was segregated and public recreation facilities were often off limits to Black citizens. The park was a welcome escape.

African American Bus Tour 1950.jpg

Whites only picnic area - Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park opened in 1935 as one of the first National Parks (along with Great Smokey Mountain and Mammoth Caves) in the American South. Segregation was a contentious issue from the first. National Parks in the rest of the nation were not segregated, so Black visitors to Shenandoah were dismayed to see whites only signs like this one when they entered the park.

Elk Wallow White only picnic area.jpg

Lewis Mountain Negro Area, Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park opened in 1935 as one of the first National Parks in the American South and following local custom, was segregated. The decision to segregate the park's facilities was controversial. The park remained segregated until 1950.

Lewis Mountain Negro Area.jpg

Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP lobbied Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to desegregate the facilities at Shenandoah National Park.

Walter White loc.jpg

Memorandum from Arthur E. Demaray, Associate Director National Park Service to Director National Park Service (presumably Arno B. Cammerer) with regards to segregation in Shenandoah National Park


1938 Map shows segregated areas of Shenandoah National Park. The map was distributed to park visitors. When the park first opened there were no facilities for African Americans. Facilities for African Americans at Lewis Mountain finally opened in 1939.

Guide Map of Shenandoah NP, VA 1938.jpg

Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior. Ickes ordered the desegregation of facilities at Shenandoah National Park. Local park officials and Virginia Senator Byrd resisted his efforts. The Park's facilities would not be completely desegregated until 1950.

Harold Ickes portrait library of congress.jpg

William J. Trent, Jr. was the Advisor on Negro Affairs to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. Trent played an important role in the struggle to desegregate the park's facilities.

William J. Trent, Jr. .png

Partial map of the Central District of Shenandoah National Park produced by the Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy) in June 1933. This map shows the area around Old Rag Mountain, Nicholson and Corbin Hollows, Skyland Resort, and Thornton Gap before the removal of the mountain residents.

SNP Central Map ATC.pdf