So what happened with The Jug State Park?
(Editor’s note: This is the latest installment from the Tyler County Planning Commission in conjunction with the Tyler County Bicentennial.)
This follow-up of last week’s feature on The Jug, researched some old issues of The Star News and The Tyler County Journal in order to answer the question, “What happen regarding the proposed state park at The Jug?” The search began with microfilm records in the West Virginia State Archives from 1962.
Beginning in late 1963, a series of articles appeared in The Star News and The Tyler County Journal featuring meeting minutes from the Middle Island Development Authority (MIDA). The articles were written by H. Cliff Hamilton, MIDA secretary.
Clues to as what happen started to appeared in the Dec. 31, 1963, edition. The memories of the tragic 1950 flash flood of Middle Island Creek were still fresh in memories of many area people. So, understandably, flood control was a big item on the list of purposes for the establishment of the MIDA. The items being examined by the authority were recreation, tourism, erosion prevention, stream channel regulation, and water conversation.
In this same edition, “The authority stressed that there may be no apprehension or misunderstanding on the part of the people who are to be served; namely, that no authority is placed with this Board of Directors to exercise the right of eminent domain. The Board of Directors would not desire any such authority and wishes to make clear to the people that such authority is not within its power.”
That same issue stated, “The enterprise itself is of such nature and such magnitude that the wishes of the people will have to be basic to all that is to be accomplished. The Board wishes to establish this Point 1 at the very beginning of its operation.” It was very evident that this board was not going to force anything on of the people of the Middle Island Creek area.
As more involvement from state and federal governments began, so did the flow of funding for project studies. In October 1964, the Army Corp of Engineers received an appropriation of $20,000 from Congress for 1964, $80,000.00 for 1965, and $50,000.00 for 1966.
With the ball rolling on flood control planning, the MIDA turned toward recreational plans. The initial mention of The Jug appeared in the Nov. 4, 1964, issue of the local newspapers. “Coinciding with the flood control measures are the recreational plans that may, in time, bring about a major change in the social and economic life of the area. At this moment the (MIDA) Board of Directors has been assured of a grant of $14,000 to be used in meeting the cost of a technical study, by an authorized landscape architect, of that part of the Middle Island Creek Basin included in the County Home and Farm and “Jug” Area. This kind of study by expert designers has seemed essential.”
When the flood control surveys were completed in the late 1960’s and after public meetings, the general consensus from the public was negative on the flood control proposal. The loss of creek bottomland for farming, muskie fishing habitat, and a major relocation of state Route 18 were some of the objections listed by the public. With the authority’s policy of “the public rules,” the proposal on flood control was abandoned and along with it, The Jug State Park.
The major feature of the flood control proposal was the creation of a large lake with a dam at Arvilla, in Pleasants County, with the lake extending as far as land adjacent to Middlebourne. This was to be the drawing card and The Jug was to play a supporting role.
So here you have it. The answer to the demise of plans for what was expected to become one of the premier parks in the State of West Virginia was dealt a deathblow by local public objections.