Belmont County's rugged hills provide the backdrop for picturesque Barkcamp State Park. In addition to fine recreational facilities, visitors will enjoy the mature woodlands, open meadows, scenic lake and abundant wildlife of this secluded 1,005-acre park.
This area was first inhabited by the Moundbuilders, then later by Wyandots, Delaware and Shawnee. Belmont County was one of the earliest areas settled in Ohio, and the scene of several bloody conflicts between settlers and Indians. Prior to the Treaty of Greenville of 1795, the nearby Ohio River was the accepted boundary between Indians to the north and settlers to the south of the river. Conflicts arose as land-hungry settlers began encroaching on Indian lands. The celebrated Indian fighter, Lewis Wetzel, was often through this region. Wetzel instigated many of the conflicts as Indians were the object of his mortal hate. A large boulder near the park's Antique Barn bears an inscription carved by Wetzel.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) established the first church in the area. Benjamin Lundy, a Quaker who lived in St. Clairsville, became known as the "Father of Abolitionism". He formed an anti-slavery society here in 1815 called the Union Humane Society. At one point, there were 120 miles of the Underground Railroad in Belmont County. Lundy helped produce the abolitionist paper, The Philanthropist at nearby Mt. Pleasant.
As years passed, coal was discovered and became the foundation of the area's economy. Belmont County is now the state's leading producer of coal with an estimated 5,668 million tons of coal available below the earth's surface.
Land acquisition began for the park in 1955, and a dam was completed in 1963 resulting in the 117-acre Belmont Lake. The park derives its unusual name from Barkcamp Creek, the former site of a logging camp where logs were stripped of their bark in preparation for delivery to the mill.
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