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'Remembering Green Pastures' Story Telling Event Part of Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway Festival

Clifton Forge, VA (May 7, 2018) - On June 2 at 2:30 p.m. during Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway Festival, a group of story tellers will gather on the stage of The Historic Masonic Theatre to tell their memories of Green Pastures Recreation Area.

Josh Howard, historian, who will introduce the group of story tellers, remembers the history of Green Pastures/Longdale Park, “In the 1930s the Clifton Forge Chapter of the NAACP requested that the Forest Service construct a recreation area for use by African-Americans in the area. During this era, segregation in America was the norm, and African-Americans were prevented from using forest facilities. The plan for the specially requested area was approved in 1936 and construction on Green Pastures Recreation Area began in 1938. On June 15, 1940, the area was dedicated and opened to the general public. Green Pastures was one of the few “colored only” recreation areas in the United States. Even before construction was finished the area was being used by African-Americans from Covington, Clifton Forge, Lexington, Alleghany County, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and other surrounding localities.

Green Pastures was built by the Dolly Ann Civilian Conservation Corps Camp F24. Some of the men who helped build Green Pastures still live in the area, and visit today’s Longdale Recreation Area on a regular basis. Memories take them back to their days in the CCC and how they came together to build a new nation in the wake of the Great Depression.

The bathhouse, picnic shelter, and the two restroom facilities are all original CCC buildings. The dam is also an original structure that was built by hand. The CCC enrollees worked around the clock using simple tools and wheelbarrows to transport cement to the area.

During World War II, Green Pastures was closed. The Forest Service utilized this time to make improvements and expand the area. It reopened in 1948 for public use, and in its heyday, welcomes more than 1800 visitors a day. On April 26th, 1963, Green Pastures name was officially changed to Longdale Recreation Area. To this day, however many people still refer fondly to the area as Green Pastures”.

The speakers for “Remembering Green Pastures” are, Josh Howard, introduction and brief history; Lily Hughes; Steve Nicely; Lorraine Spinner Howard; Pam Marshall; Reverend Roslyn Thomas and Ettrula Moore. Dr. Calvin McClinton will talk briefly about efforts to restore Green Pastures and Joan Vannorsdall, project director of What’s Your Story? will introduce the newest book in the series of What’s Your Story? books, Volume III: Green Pastures at Longdale: Family Memory, Renewal; which will be available for purchase at Heritage Day.

Story teller, Pam Marshall remembers, “What I remember about being at Green Pastures was that the nuclear family was intact. Everybody seemed to have a mom and dad when families spent the day (mostly on Sundays and Railroad holidays) at Green Pastures. And, if a child strayed too far away from mom and/or dad another mom or dad would make sure they got something to eat before returning them to their own mom and dad (who were not far away). It also seemed that everybody’s dad worked at the C&O Railroad”.

The seventh annual Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway Festival begins at 10:00 am and runs through 5:00 pm on June 2 with over 100 demonstrations, displays, entertainers, food vendors and exhibits that celebrate the heritage of the Alleghany Highlands. Admission is free and Welcome Stations are at Commercial and Church, Jefferson and Church, at the Masonic Amphitheatre Bridge, at The Historic Masonic Theatre and at C&O Railway Heritage Center. You can pick up a wrist band and schedule of events at any of the Welcome Stations. For more information, please visit the Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway Festival website and Face book page, and download the Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway festival APP.

Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & Railway Festival is sponsored by Alleghany County, Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center, Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Alleghany Historical Society, C&O Railway Heritage Center, Clifton Forge Main Street, Town of Clifton Forge, Olde Town Covington, Covington/Hot Springs Rotary Club, Clifton Forge Woman’s Club, Friends of Clifton Forge Public Library, Clifton Forge School of the Arts, Clifton Forge Presbyterian Church, Historic Masonic Theatre, Ingevity, Northwest True Value, VFW Post 1033, and Westrock.

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