Camp Wolfs Gap

On May 15, 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps opened Camp Edinburg just west of Columbia Furnace on the Virginia/West Virginia line. Originally the camp’s population consisted of approximately 80 CCC enrollees and 16 local supervisors in Company 333. All of these individuals were white.

A special order changed Camp Edinburg to a “colored” camp on August 6, 1934. At the same time the camp was renamed Camp Wolfs Gap. From then, until the camp’s closure on October 11, 1937, Wolf’s Gap would provide employment, training, and a home for several hundred African American citizens of Virginia and surrounding states.

According to official CCC records Camp Wolf Gap would have an exceptional service record. The regional Civilian Conservation Corps yearbook noted these workers improved planted 16,000 acres of trees, constructed 45 miles of road, laid 100 miles of telephone lines, improved three miles of streams, and beautified 50 miles of road beds. They were also responsible for fire protection in over 100,000 acres of local forest and responded to several major incidents, including a large fire in Cedar Creek in 1935 that took them three days to extinguish. The company also performed essential services during the flood of 1936 when they helped rescue over 1200 local residents cut off by flood waters.

However, the official records do not provide the entire picture. Local newspapers and oral history indicates tension between the African American campers and area resident’s racial opinions. In announcing the camp’s transition to an all-black camp, the Shenandoah Herald observed it was the first time so many “colored boys” had ever been present in the area and hoped it would not cause trouble.

Ultimately the only issue that emerged involved the camper’s entertainment schedule. The CCC enrollees regularly received leave to visit nearby communities on weekends. Shenandoah County's residents welcomed the white members of the Camp Roosevelt CCC camp east of Edinburg. However, locals ultimately objected to the large influx of African Americans into their community from Camp Wolfs Gap and their attempts to enjoy all white entertainment establishments and restaurants.

These complaints were so strong that the conservation corps began busing the workers to Harrisonburg where a larger black population and strong black entertainment district welcomed them. While no official records give an account of this situation, oral history and writings from local residents indicate this arrangement continued until the camp closed.

When Camp Wolfs Gap closed the Federal Government turned the camp over to the US Army who transported the structures and other supplies to other camps for reuse. Only two cabins remained, both of which were sold to locals. One was transported to Columbia Furnace where it was used as a part of Larkin’s Store until it was demolished when the current grocery was built in the 1970s. The second cabin was sent to Camp Strawderman, a local girls camp, where it is still in use.

Today the site of Camp Wolfs Gap is the Wolf Gap Campground.



Currently open to the public as the Wolf's Gap Recreation Area managed by the US Forest Service.