twin falls state park

Mary Catherine Brooks/The Wyoming County Report file photo — One of the most popular Twin Falls Resort State Park features is the Pioneer Farm. Once the Bowers family home, the Pioneer Farm is open to the public as a piece of living history and working farm, complete with residents, garden, and livestock.

Named for Marsh Fork Falls and Black Fork Falls, Twin Falls Resort State Park once possessed isolated farms spread across the rugged terrain.

The 4,000-acre park still boasts the tranquil beauty of unspoiled landscapes.

The conversion of the area into Twin Falls State Park began in 1964, when Western Pocahontas Corporation and Pocahontas Land Corporation gave the State of West Virginia a “gift of land” to develop a state park, according to Scott Durham, park superintendent.

Durham has been park superintendent for four decades – only the second superintendent in the park’s history.

The first was Morris E. “Smokey” Harsh (1918-2006), who served from 1968-79.

Durham worked as Harsh’s assistant superintendent for four years before taking the top position.

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In 1968, funding to develop the park became available under the Area Redevelopment Administration with additional funding from loans and grants, Durham noted.

When the state determined the land would be used for a new park, there were Jim and Ada Bower, who had 13 children; Ted and Laura Shumate, with seven children; Ira and Famie Canada, along with Barbara Severt, and her son, David, and his wife, Stella, and their children, making their homes there, according to Eddie Severt, who spent the first 10 years of his life in what is now the assistant superintendent’s house.

Severt’s dad, David, built the house and owned 20 acres at the time. Barbara Severt lived in what would become the museum, now the nature center; she owned 33 acres.

The state took the land through eminent domain and the families were notified in the spring of 1965 they would have to vacate by the fall.

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The first park feature – a nine-hole golf course – was open to the public during the fall of 1967.

The following year construction began on the lodge complex, pro shop/swimming pool complex, and cabin units.

Initial facilities included a 20-room lodge with restaurant and gift shop, 13 vacation cabins, a nine-hole golf course with pro shop, which included an outdoor swimming pool that was closed a few years ago.

In 1970, the pro shop complex and cabins were completed.

These facilities were opened for public use June 26, 1970, Durham said.

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In 1971, a 69-site campground and 88-site picnic area, picnic shelter, campground contact center, and associated sewage and water systems were begun. Construction was conducted by the Department of Natural Resources’ Planning and Development Division. However, the funding was exhausted prior to completion and Harsh completed the project with park crews and funds.

In 1976, the completed campground included 50 campsites, two comfort stations, and a contact center, according to Durham.

The picnic areas were finished as three different areas that included a total of 55 picnic sites, three restrooms, and a picnic shelter (today known as Shelter 3).

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Harsh is responsible for the salvation of the Bowers home place, today known as the Pioneer Farm and one of the most popular park features.

Under the direction of Harsh, building of the Pioneer Farm was completed in 1974. The Pioneer Farm then was completely open to public visitation. Unfortunately, vandalism proved to be a major problem. So, in 1977, it was decided the farm needed a full-time resident.

Today, the farm is a piece of living history, complete with on-site residents, garden, and livestock.

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In 1979, Twin Falls’ popularity for group meetings and banquet sites prompted the West Virginia Legislature to appropriate funds for an addition to the existing lodge that included a conference/banquet room for 140 (Azalea Room), kitchen renovation, meeting room to accommodate up to 50 people (Magnolia Room), additional storage space, conference audiovisual equipment, necessary utility alterations, and relocation of a service drive. The expansion was opened to the public in 1981, giving Twin Falls five conference rooms.

Today, the lodge features 47 rooms with an indoor pool and a fitness room for lodge guests.

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Also during the early 1980s, a legislative allocation was awarded to develop the existing golf course into an 18-hole, Par 71 course.

The clearing of nearly 40 acres of densely wooded land was phase one. The next phase included contouring the land, laying of main drains and re-location of creek and utility right-of-ways. Phase three and four was the laying of small irrigation lines, installing an automated sprinkler system throughout the 18 holes, building of tees, greens and bunkers, and finally, seeding.

The original nine-hole course was a Geoffrey Cornish design, the additional nine holes were designed by noted golf course designer George Cobb Sr.

The new 18-hole championship course opened for public use in 1984.

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Open year-round, the park also features a driving range located near the golf pro shop, nearly 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, expanded meeting and conference facilities, gift shop, nature programs, playgrounds, and full-service restaurant.

For more information about the activities and facilities at Twin Falls Resort State Park, phone 304-294-4000 or on the web at www.twinfallsresort.com.

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