Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

003-5109 Green Pastures Recreation Area

Green Pastures Recreation Area
Photo credit: Mike Pulice & Aubrey Von Lindern/DHR, 2021

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 12/09/2021

Initially constructed between 1938 and 1940 during the era of racial segregation, the Green Pastures Recreation Area, later known as Longdale Day Use Area and located in Alleghany County, was the first and only African American USDA Forest Service recreation site within Virginia and, likely, the only one of its kind nationwide. It was also one of very few outdoor recreational areas open to African Americans in the central Appalachian region during the 1930s through the 1950s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed Green Pastures for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, laying it out within the George Washington National Forest. CCC laborers built a small lake with a sandy beach, a bathhouse, picnic shelter, toilets, playing fields, hiking trails, improved walking paths, and parking areas. The facility was meant to complement the six Virginia State Parks opened in 1936 including nearby Douthat State Park, also built by the CCC. Though not legally mandated, the State Parks were effectively whites-only. An NAACP-led campaign resulted in a meeting between federal and state land management agencies—the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Virginia State Parks, and the Virginia Department of Forestry—during which the Forest Service agreed to host an African American recreation area. In 1950, Green Pastures was officially integrated, and in 1964 the name changed to Longdale. During the 1940s and 1950s, Downy Branch water management plans led to the construction of two small dams, a reservoir, and a chlorination station. In all, the 133-acre recreation area contains a mix of 21 historically contributing buildings, sites, and structures.


Abbreviations:
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark


Updated: December 9, 2021