(Editor's note: This is the latest installment from the Tyler County Planning Commission in conjunction with the Tyler County Bicentennial.)
To date, Tyler County Bicentennial articles have dealt with county history, in other words, what took place during our 200 years. This week's article deals with what might have been.
The last gristmill at The Jug ceased to operate around 1900, as was detailed to some extent in last week's feature. Around 1947 and 1948, the low water bridge at that location was constructed. From that time, activity at The Jug was confined to a roadside tavern, farming, and private camps.
A reconstructed gristmill and gift shop at the park entrance was part of a plan for the proposed state park at The Jug, in 1965.
In early 1963, however, a series of events took place, which put a focus on Middle Island Creek and The Jug that would have potentially turned into The Jug area into our entire region's primary recreation and tourism attraction.
The Middle Island Creek Development Authority was chartered as a public corporation by order of House Bill No. 398 and passed by the full West Virginia Legislature on March 7, 1963. The legislation was written by Delegates Buck and Delegate Michaels, and established a territorial limit of the authority to include Doddridge, Pleasants and Tyler Counties. The authority's purpose was to actively address recreation, tourism, flood control, erosion prevention, water conservation, and stream channel regulation.
In June 1963, the U.S. Departments of Interior and Commerce published an Area Analysis Staff Report on Tourist and Recreational Potential of Middle Island Creek. This report found that area's tourism-recreation development was insignificant, but that the area had local assets favoring further growth. This growth would be geared to the hunting, fishing, and camping targeting the middle-income segment of the Ohio Valley's urban areas.
Discussion began in Charleston on the creation of a scenic parkway system in the state, possibly involving state Route 18. In addition, the Army Corp of Engineers released a study on flood control on Middle Island Creek. The study suggested the construction of three dams, the largest in Pleasants County and two small impoundments in Doddridge County.
The Middle Island Creek Development Authority, following a series of meetings with state and federal officials and interested citizens, made application on May 20, 1964, for a technical assistance project to develop the natural advantages of the Middle Island Creek area as a tourist recreational area. The federal Area Redevelopment Adminis-tration eventually announced approval of the proposed project to study the feasibility of recreational facilities at the Jug.
On Dec. 28, 1964, a contract with the engineering firm of Michael Baker Jr., Inc., was entered into, to prepare a specific plan, supporting feasibility-market-cost analyses, for recreational- tourism development along Middle Island Creek in Tyler County.
The engineering/feasibility study was published on Sept. 3rd, 1965. The study featured preliminary plans for the creation of a state park at The Jug. These primary features were: rustic cabins; a recreated grist mill with gift shop; a 44-room lodge; a nine-hole golf course; 13 camp sites; picnic areas; a swimming pool; a new diversion dam; a new vehicle bridge; stables and carriage facilities; boat ramps; and a golf driving range.
So, what happenedor didn't happen? The results of research into the plan and the reasons it failed to come to fruition will be the subject of future articles in the Celebrating Tyler County's Bicentennial.