Potomac State College: Tree and Grass Planting – Keyser WV

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Description

In April 1936, C.S. Liller, the janitor at Potomac State College (PSC), and three enrollees of the National Youth Administration (NYA), John Bright, Edward Furlong, and Joe Dickel, began planting larch and evergreen trees on the “Mineral Street slope of the Potomac Campus” (The Pasquino, April 24, 1936).  The president of the college, Joseph W. Stayman, contributed to the project, too, by driving the NYA men to Backbone Mountain to acquire more trees.

Later in 1936, NYA students planted 15 sugar maple trees between the men’s and women’s dorms (Reynolds and Davis halls). This time, they were joined by Dr. Robert C. Patterson, Professor of Zoology. Over the next few years, Dr. Patterson would direct many NYA projects at PSC.

A few months after the sugar maples were planted, the editors of The Pasquino (the student newspaper of PSC) asked for more grass and tree planting to improve the “Gobi Desert” appearance of the campus (March 10, 1937). One month later, perhaps in response to the editorial, Dr. Patterson and his NYA work crew planted 112 fir trees across the campus and “after this work is finished [they] plan to spread quantities of earth over the bare plot before the Men’s Dorm and sow grass seed there to make the central campus more attractive” (The Pasquino, April 14, 1937).

In November 1937, the NYA planted 15 dogwood, oak, and maple trees at unspecified locations on campus: “The N.Y.A. boys planted these trees when their time was not taken up by classes and laboratories in the afternoons of each weekday” (The Pasquino, November 10, 1937).

And then in December 1937, 17 evergreen trees were brought to campus, with plans to place them east of the president’s house. It’s not clear if the NYA participated in these plantings, but it was reported that Dr. Patterson was supervising the project, so it’s  likely.

Two years after the majority of the NYA tree-planting had occurred, The Pasquino noted the impact: “Under Dr. Patterson’s direction, a great deal of work has been carried out by both men and women on the NYA projects… For example, the present beautiful campus, with grass and trees, was formerly an unsodded football field, until so converted through the work of these students” (November 1, 1939).

The NYA seems to have planted at least 190 trees on the PSC campus, but we don’t know how many of them still exist. The photographs on this project page show mature trees on the campus today, some of which are probably of NYA origin.

Across the nation, the NYA planted 19 million trees and shrubs, as part of a broader  New Deal forestry and conservation effort that included bird sanctuaries, fish hatcheries, firebreaks, and soil erosion control.

Source notes

Potomac Observes Delayed Arbor Day,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), April 24, 1936, p. 1 (accessed May 21, 2022).

Landscaping Continues,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), October 28, 1936, p. 6 (accessed May 21, 2022).

New Walks Are O.K. But -- ,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), March 10, 1937, p. 2 (accessed May 21, 2022).

Spring Landscaping Beautifies Campus,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), April 14, 1937, p. 1 (accessed May 21, 2022).

N.Y.A. Plants Trees On Campus Hillside,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), November 10, 1937, pp. 1 and 4 (accessed May 21, 2022).

Campus Landscaping Includes New Trees,” The Pasquino (Potomac State College, West Virginia), December 1, 1937, p. 1 (accessed May 21, 2022).

Federal Security Agency, War Manpower Commission, Final Report of the National Youth Administration, Fiscal Years 1936-1943, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944, p. 142.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on June 2, 2022.

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Location Info


WVU Potomac State College
Keyser, WV 26726

Coordinates: 39.437883 , -78.980758

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