F. D. Roosevelt State Park; Pine Mountain
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The F.D. Roosevelt State Park, named after the nation's 32nd president, covers more than 9,000 acres and is the largest state park in Georgia. In addition to offering a wealth of outdoor activities and more than 40 miles of scenic trails, including the Pine Mountain Trail, visitors may also see structures such as cottages and the Liberty Bell swimming pool that were built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Tourists also take the opportunity to visit the historic Dowdell's Knob, the overlook where President Franklin Roosevelt used to host picnics and sit and contemplate some of the issues facing him as president.
Backstory and Context
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Located just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta, the F.D. Roosevelt State Park is the largest state park in Georgia, covering close to 10,000 acres. The park consists of more than 40 miles of scenic trails, with the most notable trail being the Pine Mountain Trail, which totals 23 miles. Hikers become immersed in the nature that surrounds, such as the Georgia pines and hardwoods, as well as the flowing creeks and waterfalls.
The park is named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who first ventured to the small town of Warm Springs, Georgia in 1924. It was his hope that the natural spring waters in the area would restore the use of his legs, which he lost after contracting infantile paralysis in 1921. FDR would soon establish the first rehabilitation center for polio patients in the country and built his home, the Little White House, in 1932, the same year he was elected president.
Just above an area called King's Gap in the F.D. Roosevelt State Park is Dowdell's Knob. Situated at an elevation of 1,395 feet, the Knob was FDR's favorite spot because of the priceless views it offers. Here was where the president, sometimes accompanied by Eleanor Roosevelt, would host picnics for some of his closest friends and Warm Springs neighbors. Just two days before his death in 1945 at the Little White House, and with the end of World War II in sight, the president sat alone atop Dowdell's Knob for two hours.
It is said that, in the 1800s, a local farmer named Lewis J. Dowdell would bring the enslaved people that worked on his farm up to the Knob for open church services. Eventually, Dowdell's Knob became a local landmark made even more famous by FDR. Atop the Knob, visitors can still see the bar-b-que the former president would use to grill hotdogs, and even have their picture made with a statue of FDR that was dedicated by the state in 2007. The statue, depicting FDR sitting on his removable car seat with his leg braces visible, was conceived by an Atlanta sculptor named Martin Dawe.
Members of the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many facilities within the park during the Great Depression, including a Liberty Bell shaped swimming pool, stone cabins, and arched bridges on Highways 190 and 354. Also located on the property is a lake that is open to fishermen, as well as canoeing and various spots to picnic located on and off the hiking trails.
The Roosevelt Lodge located at this state park was also built by the CCC. The central office and lodge offers information and registers overnight guests. Most of the cottages are either located at the top of the mountain or down near the lake shore. In addition to the cottages, there are numerous campsites and campgrounds. Nearby attractions include the town of Warm Springs and FDR's Little White House, Callaway Gardens, and Columbus, Georgia. Although the park is a popular destination throughout the year, it has been voted one of the top state parks to visit during fall foliage. Visitors can also find various panels and historic markers that explains the history of one of Georgia's most visited sites, and the importance of the president that initiated its creation.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park Pine Mountain, Georgia State Parks. Accessed March 27th 2021. https://gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt.
Warm Springs Historic District, NPS. Accessed March 28th 2021. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/roosevelts_little_white_house.html.
Cox, Dale. Dowdell's Knob Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park Pine Mountain, Georgia, Explore Southern History. September 11th 2014. Accessed March 28th 2021. https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/dowdellsknob.html.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - This was his Georgia, Waymarking. May 24th 2008. Accessed March 28th 2021. https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3VWJ_Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt_This_was_his_Georgia.
FDR State Park, Pine Mountain. Accessed March 29th 2021. http://www.pinemountain.org/attractions/fdr-state-park.
Cox, Dale. Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park Pine Mountain, Georgia, Explore Southern History. September 12th 2014. Accessed March 29th 2021. https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fdrstatepark.html.
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