• dogwood across creek

    Prince William Forest

    Park Virginia

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    Reminder to park visitors. Fireworks are prohibited at Prince William Forest Park.

  • Oak Ridge Campground Site A29 closure

    Oak Ridge Campground site A29 will be closed until safety concerns have been mitigated. Please do not use that site until it has been reopened.

  • Warm Wet Spring = More Ticks

    Please check yourself and your pets for ticks continually during and after your visit. Ticks are less prevelent if you stay on trail or in mowed areas. Wearing light colored clothing helps you spot them before the attach.

  • Firewood

    Outside firewood is prohibited in Prince William Forest Park, unless it is certified USDA 'bug free' firewood. Dead and downed wood may be collected from designated areas for use while in the park. Help us protect the forest from invasive species!

  • Visitor Center Remodel 2014

    Over the next several months there will be new changes coming to the Visitor Center. Presently we are remodeling the bookstore area to give it more of a country theme. Next the exibit area will get all new exhibits. Thank you for your patience and support

Balancing Historic Preservation & Environmental Stewardship

OSS image of cabin camp 4 craft lodge
This 1945 image of the Camp 4 Craft Lodge shows the OSS added asphalt shingles.
National Archives and Records Administration

In the fall of 2012, Prince William Forest Park will begin to implement its plans to replace the roofing system on its historic 1930s era cabins. Park staff work around the clock to maintain these historic structures to historic standards, replacing board for board and nail for nail. In planning for the long term stability of the structures, park managers must work to balance the historic standards requirements with ever-present funding constraints and park goals for environmental stewardship. It is the goal of the park to eventually replace all of the cabin roofs in alignment with this plan.

We care what you think about these plans! Please read the brief description of the project and provide comment to us. You can find a more detailed description of the plans at the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. You can provide comments on the proposal via email or on the PEPC website.

1930s cabin with campers

the original cedar shake roofs in 1936

The Historic Cabins:
The Prince William Forest Park cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression to provide overnight, outdoor recreation for impoverished youth from Washington, DC. During World War II, these same cabins were taken over by the Office of Strategic Services, the WWII predecessor the CIA and America's Special Forces, for use as Special Operations and Communications Training Camps. Though many of these cabins have been on the National Register of Historic Places for many years, the park, in its entirety, was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places this year based in a large part on the cabins' Great Depression and WWII era history.

About the Cabin Roofs:
The cabins were constructed following the tenets of the rustic architecture movement which was very popular in the early 20th century. This movement used locally-harvested materials to achieve a naturalist, pioneer-made look, despite the use of machines for some construction. For the cabin roofs at Prince William Forest Park, the CCC used hand-made, cedar shake shingles on all of the buildings. You can view a Works Progress Administration worker hand-making these shingles in the early park film, The Human Crop.

a green roof cabin

During the OSS era (42-45), some of the original cabin roofs were replaced with asphalt shingles (shown top of the page) which was cheaper and less labor intensive, despite being aesthetically opposed to the rustic architecture movement. Since the 1940s, layer after layer of asphalt shingles have been laid upon the roofs with more regard to structural preservation that architectural aesthetics. Over the years, the roof color has varied from the original, faded gray for a cedar shake, to brown, green, and gray asphault shingles.

a brown roof cabin

Considering Our Options
Prince William Forest Park management has considered a variety of materials for the proposed roof replacement, and has concluded that the use of authentic cedar shake shingles would be fiscally prohibitive not only due to the cost of the materials themselves, but also because of the frequency with which the shingles would have to be replaced. This new roofing plan will return to a more aesthetic and sustainable roofing material that maintains the character of the rustic style architecture originally used on the camp buildings, as well as to provide for the long-term preservation of these historic buildings. The NPS chose not to select asphalt shingles because they do not match the appearance and visual qualities of wood shake (see photo).


A worker holds up a original cedar shake to the roof of a cabin covered in the chosen composite material.

About the New Roofing Proposal
Park management has selected to replace the existing asphalt shingles with a substitute material shingle, made of composite, recycled material, which best meets the purpose and need of this project.These shingles are made to replicate the look and profile of the original cedar shake shingles that were hand-made by the CCC and installed on the cabins in the 1930s.They are a faded grey color, matching the look of cedar after a few years of weathering.The long term life cycle replacement (how long the shingles are on the roofs until they need to be replaced) far outstretches both asphalt shingles and the original cedar shake shingles.The composite shingles are fire and mod resistant.These factors led the park to choose the composite shingle for its roofing needs on the historic cabins.

Did You Know?

View along Farms to Forest Trail.

At over 15,000 acres, Prince William Forest Park protects the largest example of eastern Piedmont forest ecosystem (one of the most heavily altered ecosystems in North America) in the National Park System.