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Building within Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area
Photo by Jerry Blow, courtesy of Raleigh Historic Development Commission
The Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area, now known as Umstead State Park, is a significant Depression-era public works project, the purpose of which was to convert exhausted farmland into a recreational park. The facility's 5,337 acres constitute the region's largest and most extensive project of its type. In 1934, the then newly-formed Resettlement Administration began assembling some 400 tracts of farmland 12 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh. The Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration then recruited laborers from among the region's young men, who, under the supervision of architects, landscape architects, foresters and engineers, set about reversing years of soil degradation. The laborers planted forests, dammed creeks to create lakes and instituted formal land management practices. They also constructed rustic-style group camps, bridges, roads, trails and picnic areas. The result is piedmont North Carolina's premier collection of New Deal rustic architecture and landscape design.

[photo] Group using the campground
Photo courtesy of North Carolina Division of Archives and History

Most of the park's features were installed between 1936 and 1941. In 1943, the entire area was deeded to the state. Seven years later, the southern portion was designated as a separate area for African Americans and named Reedy Creek State Park. In 1955, the northern section was renamed in honor of late Governor William Umstead, a strong supporter of conservation. The two areas were reunited in 1966 as William B. Umstead State Park. Subsequent development within the facility has expanded upon its original vision, with new buildings and site features complementing the design and siting of the originals. Today the once-rural park stands as a forested oasis within the rapidly expanding Triangle metropolitan area.

Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area, now William B. Umstead State Park, is located on the northwest side of Raleigh, between I-40 and U.S. Rt. 70. It is open to day visitors from 8:00am to dusk, with overnight camping available in designated areas. For further information call 919-571-4170 or visit the park's website.

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