Description - **Information provivded by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources**
Through the wisdom of a descendent, the late 1700s farm of Watters Smith was bequeathed to the state park system to be preserved for posterity. A log cabin similar to the original was moved and reconstructed on the park, the Smith family home (c. 1876) has been restored as a museum, and an additional museum houses many early farm artifacts. Guided tours are offered from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. In addition, the park features swimming, picnicking, hiking trails, and horseback riding.
This 532-acre historical park stands as a memorial to the pioneer spirit of Watters Smith who settled here in 1796. The park came into being when Burr Smith, a descendent, died in 1949 and willed his 236-acre farm to the state to be developed into a park to honor his paternal great-great-grandfather.
Watters Smith, the son of Thomas Smith of England, was himself born in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 15, 1767. In 1793 he married Elizabeth Davisson, a first cousin and neighbor of his father. His father owned a 1,000-acre tract of land in Harrison County, then in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and therefore it was only natural for Watters Smith to choose land adjacent to his father's when searching for a place to establish a home and family. Smith purchased 112 acres adjoining his father's for the sum of $266 in 1792, but the lingering threat of Indians prevented him from moving to the area immediately with his new bride.
In 1796, he and his wife moved to their future farm on Duck Creek and began clearing the land, planting crops and building a cabin. His tools were made by hand and necessitated the construction of a blacksmith and a carpenter shop. The goods that could not be grown or handmade were obtained from distant urban areas over "roads" that were mere wide, hazardous trails cut through the wilderness.
Watters and Elizabeth Smith had eight children, and Charles, their second, was the first white child born on Duck Creek. The youngest child, Watters Smith, Jr., eventually inherited the property. He, in turn, gave it to his son John, who passed it on to his son Alexander, who was born in 1847. In 1876, Alexander, better known as "Uncle Doc", had a home constructed to replace the orignal hand-hewn log Smith cabin. Today, this home is used as one of two museums on the park and is open to the public.
The farm was operated as a business for four generations, and the implements seen in the museums and in the barns and sheds were used to keep it running. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of Burr Smith, the farm now stands as a lasting tribute to a family who carved a life out of the wilderness and preserves for us a view of frontier life from 1796 to the early 1900s.
- In addition to the interpretive farm museum of the main park, Watters Smith State Park also offers
a modern swimming pool - Water Aerobics & Swimming activities are scheduled, call the park for more details.
an activity/meeting building
hiking and biking trails for all skill levels
Gift Shop - "Wings into Roots", featuring local artisans, appalachian lore, music, educational materials and games, art, quality gifts, books and park memorabilia. All proceeds benefit our park foundation.
The swimming pool is open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day (Subject to change).
Guided tours of the Smith House Museum and of the Visitor's Center are conducted daily, 11 a.m. to 7p.m., Memorail Day Weekend to Labor Day. Other times by reservation. Admission is free, however donations are accepted.
Recreation - Swimming, Picnicking
Climate - West Virginia experiences four distinct seasons, none of which are extreme. Temperatures in the highlands of the Allegheny Mountains are somewhat more severe than the rest of the state. Generally temperatures during the winter months range from 15 to 40 degrees F. Ample snow accumulation provides for cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities. Spring brings blooming trees and shrubs to the forested regions of the state, as well as warmer temperatures. During this season, March through May, expect mild temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers are normally hot with high humidity, especially at lower elevations. Expect temperatures to range from 70 at night to 95 during the dog days of August. Fall brings cool, crisp air to West Virginia and spectacular foliage color changes. Bring a light jacket for this season, which brings temperatures between 35, at night, to 70 degrees F, during the day.
Watters Smith Memorial State Park may be reached by taking Exit 110 off I-79 (Lost Creek exit) and following the directional signs to West Milford, left on Duck Creek Road to Watters Smith State Park (approximately 7 miles). Visitors traveling US 19 should turn off at West Milford and follow signs three miles to the park.