World War II at Catoctin Mountain Park

Water cascading over rocks at Owens Creek
Water cascading over rocks at Owens Creek

Volunteer John Zuke

Roosevelt and Churchill fishing
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill Fishing

"All gave some, some gave all." The same can be said for our public lands during the Second World War. The Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area (as it was called then) gave everything it could. It even sacrificed its resources and services: a rare moment in NPS history when a dire cause took precedent over preservation and enjoyment.

While the 10,000-acre recreational area closed to the general public, soldiers, spies, and Allied leaders used it to win the war. One cabin area, intended for scouts and federal employees, became Roosevelt's "Bear's Den." Another cabin area, built as a unique camp for children with disabilities, hosted sailors for rest and rehabilitation. The trees themselves shook and fell while OSS agents detonated the latest in high-tech explosives.

The events of WWII were the defining moment that kept Catoctin Mountain Park as a unit of the National Park Service.

Read about...

USS Catoctin

Learn how the park became a place of recreation Rest Camps for Sailors.

Shangri-La entrance sign
Shangri-la entrance sign

A camp fit for a President Shangri-La

OSS Agent in mask
OSS Agent in mask

Learn about The Office of Strategic Services and how World War II spies once roamed the mountain.

Last updated: May 7, 2020

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