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December 30, 2014

1936 Knob Noster State Park Constructed

The park, originally known as Montserrat National Recreation Demonstration Area, was transferred to the state of Missouri in 1946 and named for Knob Noster.
Knob Noster State Park Map, Missouri
Whiteman Air Force Base
Hiking, Biking, Camping
During the Great Depression, a coalition of Kansas Citians proposed the creation of a park area that would serve three purposes: to act as a recreational area for people in the local area, to provide employment relief for those unable to find work during this time., and to rehabilitate approximately 2,700 acres of marginal land, which resulted from unsustainable farming and agriculture. The National Park Service (NPS) agreed to this project and surveyed the land. Around 3,000 acres were purchased in preparation for development. The NPS and the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began to map out ideas for the park under the direction of administrator A.C. Adams. The final plans for the park were submitted in December of 1935, and construction began in January of 1936. The park was estimated to cost the federal government approximately $230,000.

The area developed was called Montserrat Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA), due to its proximity to the town of Montserrat. The goals of a RDA were to develop lands no longer sustainable for agriculture and rehabilitate them for preservation and conservation. Montserrat, along with Lake of the Ozarks and Cuivre River, were three RDAs created in the state of Missouri, which all became state parks. As well as this, these areas would provide a much needed recreational area for those living in Kansas City and the surrounding area, and away from possible threats of construction and urban sprawl. During the course of development 315 acres of trees were seeded and planted, around 10 miles of foot trails were constructed, two dining halls, and many cabins were built on the sites that would become Camp Shawnee and Camp Bobwhite, and around 20 acres of land were seeded with various flora. Many workers (mostly unskilled labor) began to work on the area’s development and administration. Around 200 people were involved in the labor centered around Montserrat Recreational Demonstration Area. Though World War II significantly delayed construction, the project was finished in 1946.
When the demonstration area’s plans were being finalized, Administrator Adams stated that the finished project would be turned over to the State of Missouri, with control of its administration given to the Missouri State Park Board. In 1946, the NPS turned over control of the area to Missouri, under the administration of Jean L. Woody, who had initially worked at the demonstration area as a foreman. In 1947, the area’s name was officially changed to Knob Noster State Park. The name came at the behest judge and former mayor of Knob Noster J.W. Sibert.
Knob Noster State Park is looking for individuals interested in helping with the park’s archival and historic preservation efforts. Get hands-on with the various park files and images! Learn about the park while helping to collect information necessary to piece together the history of Knob Noster State Park!
Knob Noster State Park offers a variety of activities for those young and old, including camping, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and interpretive programs. As well as this, the park offers organized group camps at Camp Bobwhite and Camp Shawnee. Camp Shawnee was made into a National Historic District in 1985 and is a part of the National Register of Historic Places as an example of rustic park architecture and reflective of the RDAs created during the Great Depression. Visitors to the park may also spot B-2 bombers from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base.
"...the view opens upon...beautiful prairies, dotted with clumps of trees..."
Ephraim McDowell Anderson, 1861
Indian legend relates that the two hills, or "knobs," in the area were raised up as monuments to slain warriors. Settlers to the area later added the Latin word, noster, meaning "our." The local community has been called Knob Noster, "our hill," ever since. The park itself was originally named the Montserrat National Recreation Demonstration Area. It was created by the National Park Service as an example of how marginal agricultural land that had been cleared or mined could be reclaimed for recreation.
By the time the land was transferred to the state in 1946 and renamed for the nearby town, much had been done to develop the park. In the late 1930s, Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC ) workers had built a campground, picnic areas, roads, bridges, service buildings and two large camps for use by organized groups. These accomplishments can still be enjoyed in the park and many of them are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The park lies in a transition zone where prairies and forests meet. The writings of a Confederate soldier describe the beauty of this landscape more than 100 years ago. It was a countryside that was neither totally forest, nor totally prairie, but one where tall grasses and diverse wildflowers mingled beneath widely spaced trees. This type of landscape is known as open woodland.
Today, most of the open woodlands has been replaced by dense second and third growth timber that gradually invaded the more open grassy areas. The park staff has been restoring portions of the park to its presettlement condition through controlled burning. Displays in these management areas help visitors appreciate and understand the dynamic forces that have shaped the landscape over time.
A park naturalist is available year-round to conduct nature interpretive programs, as well as ecological stewardship activities. An outdoor theatre, the Lil' Forest Amphitheater, is located in the campground. The park's visitor center contains exhibits that trace the history of the park and its special natural features.
Clearfork Creek, which meanders through the park, bisects the landscape and supports a wide corridor of trees along its path. Dominant trees include several species of oak and hickory, pawpaw, redbud and hackberry. A unique wetland area along the creek, recognized for its natural features, has been designated an official Missouri natural area. Pin Oak Slough Natural Area is a four-acre oxbow slough, and is home to an elusive member of the orchid family, the pale green orchid.
There are two small lakes in the park that offer visitors an opportunity to fish for bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Picnic sites are scattered throughout the park and three open picnic shelters and playground equipment also help make a day trip to the area enjoyable.
Several types of trails wind through the park. Trails have been developed for equestrian use and all-terrain bicyclists as well as hikers. The Boy Scouts maintain a compass course throughout the park with maps available at the park office and online. Visitors can also hike out to one of the open woodland management areas, and listen to the dickcissels calling in the bluestem grass. At night, sounds of frogs, whippoorwills and barred owls permeate the air. Other wildlife found in the park include white-tailed deer, fox, raccoon, opossum, wild turkey, screech owl, pileated woodpecker, eastern bluebird and great blue heron.
For visitors wanting to enjoy more than just a few hours here, there is a wooded campground with modern restrooms, hot showers, laundry facilities and a dumping station. The two group camps may be used by larger non-profit organizations that make reservations in advance. The group camps include sleeping cabins, a dining lodge and kitchen, modern restrooms, showers, swimming pool and various other outdoor recreation facilities.

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