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“Devil’s Den State Park before the CCC”

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May 24, 2010 by wcobserver

 Devil’s Den Diary

Lucas Caldwell

Often when we think of the history of Devil’s Den we think of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), but there were visitors and residents of the Lee Creek Valley before the CCC and the construction of the park.  One family of those residents happened to have been the Wain and Lucinda Dotson family.  The Dotson home place, located near the Fossil Flats trails near camping area “A”, consisted of a barn on the east side, their house to the west, where the crumbled chimney still lay as a pile of rocks, a well, and a smokehouse, of which the foundation remains as well.   The Dotson family was one of the last to leave the valley.  They worked the land until it had very little left to give.  Some recall that Wain planted just about every kind of crop at one time or another.  Records in the Washington County Courthouse show that Lucinda sold their 80 acres to the State for $1,500.00 on January 3, 1938.

One of the local stories told about the Dotson family involved the twins Otis and Otto. They were known to be a cantankerous pair, but no more so than when they burned down the Mount Olive School around the late 1910s.  It was said that they did it for no other reason than to avoid going to school.

This story and many others like it can be found in the History and Self-Guiding Tour of the Upper Lee Creek Valley and Devil’s Den State Park book.  The tour offered in this book is both a driving and walking tour and will require you to wear proper footwear for the walking portion.  Come enjoy this book and others like it that tell the story of Devil’s Den State Park.  They may be purchased at the visitor center for one dollar.

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