Craighead Forest Park – Jonesboro AR

Description

The history of Craighead Forest Park portraits a close collaboration between the local community and federal government during the Great Depression “to stave off the ravages of poverty, misery and human degradation.” (1) It dates to 1937 when the Young Men’s Civic Club of Jonesboro (YMCC) started working on the project of a community recreational park for locals to enjoy. Through the help of Mr. H.E Remsburg, the areas supervisor for the WPA program, and US Senator Hattie W. Caraway, a $100,000 park development program was granted through the WPA. (2) The Civilian Conservation Corps also worked with the Forestry Commission to begin construction of the observation tower, the Community Building, and the planting of a total of 60,000 seedings during the project. (3)
The park has seen substantial change over the years. Today it covers 692 acres of scenic landscape located in the south of Jonesboro, Craighead County, Arkansas. The park is divided into seven access areas and offers various recreational opportunities to enjoy including walking and running, mountain biking, picnic, playgrounds and splash pad, boating, fishing, camping, and sports like basketball, softball, and volleyball.

(1) Stephens, Joan M. A history of Craighead Forest Park. S.l. : s.n., 1974. P1. Accessed on June 14, 2021, Archive of Arkansas State University.
(2) Ibid, P3.
(3) Ibid, P5.

Source notes

Chris mentions that the history of Craighead Forest Park dates to 1937 when the Young Men's Civic Club of Jonesboro (YMCC) started working on the lake to create an attraction for locals to enjoy. (1) Kohl further explores that in 1937, the Jonesboro Young Men’s Civic Club applied for Public Works Administration funding and built a levee creating a lake for public use in an area south of Jonesboro. After the construction of an earth dam came the establishment of a 60-acre lake. Along with over 600 acres of surrounding forest land, the lake was later donated to the city, making the area the only city-owned recreational forest in Arkansas. (2)
Both the book Arkansas: A Guide to the State and The WPA Guide to Arkansas mention that Craighead Forest Park is the only municipal-owned recreational forest in the state. (3) On 612 oak- and hickory-covered acres donated to the city of Jonesboro by the YMCC, facilities were erected in 1939 and 1940. (4)
Stephens in his essay A History of Craighead Forest Park provided detailed information about the project. The YMCC was formed during the Great Depression. On April 20, 1937, the YMCC purchased Bina West Miller’s 612 aces for $3,000. (5) On November 1, 1937, the YMCC donated the land to the city of Jonesboro for $1 with the stipulation that the land would be “for the public benefit and use forever.” (6) Then, through the help of Mr. H.E Remsburg, the areas supervisor for the WPA program, and the US Senator Hattie W. Caraway, the YMCC applied for a $100,000 park development program through the WPA. (7) The Civilian Conservation Corps also worked with the Forestry Commission to begin construction of the observation tower on Feb. 12, 1940. They built a dam which is now a 35acre lake. The Community building or Club House was a masterpiece of community effort. The work of CCC also included planting 30,000 seedlings in one year, with a total of 60,000 planted during the project. (8)

(1) Chris. Craighead Forest Park - A Guide to the Best Trails in Jonesboro. Jan. 9, 2017. Accessed on June 16, 2021. https://abritandasoutherner.com/craighead-forest-park/

(2) Kohl, Julie. The Craighead Forest Park. September 9, 2019. https://onlyinark.com/places-and-travel/craighead-forest-park/

(3) Workers of the Writers' program. Arkansas: A Guide to the State. New York, Hastings House, 1941.

(4) Federal Writers' Project. The WPA Guide to Arkansas: The Natural State. WPA Guides Digital Library, 2013.

(5) Stephens, Joan M. A history of Craighead Forest Park. S.l. : s.n., 1974. P1. Accessed on June 14, 2021, Archive of Arkansas State University.

(6) Ibid, P2.

(7) Ibid, P3.

(8) Ibid, P5.

Project originally submitted by Ximai Shi on August 8, 2021.

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Location Info


Craighead Forest Park
Jonesboro, AR

Coordinates: 35.779051, -90.705146

2 comments on “Craighead Forest Park – Jonesboro AR

  1. Brenda Lard

    I love Craighead Forrest park, I wrote my first Essay there while sitting on a picnic table and watching the geese and ducks. I gave the oldest looking white goose a name. I called him Bill Clinton because he had a square head and stood taller than the others. He seemed more aggressive than the other geese too. I walked around the park regularly for about 15 years. I moved away and 2 years later I came back but Mr Bill Clinton was not there. The people who walked Craighead Forest Park know exactly which goose I’m speaking of. Beautiful park, lots of memories.

  2. Me and my children love walking around the lake it’s as beautiful as it is quite love the sunset it gives off

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