Locals move to save Green Pastures recreation area

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ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) “Sat here, with our toes in the sand, or we waded out in the shallow water," Pamela Marshall, now Clifton Forge's Vice Mayor, said about her childhood at Green Pastures. "We couldn’t swim at the time.”

A trip to Green Pastures near Longdale Furnace brings back fond childhood memories for Marshall.

“Oh, the Fourth of July, this place was so packed you’d have people as far as you could see," she said. "They would even go all the way around, cause you’d run out of room here pretty quick.”

“From 1938 until 1950, this was the only park in West Virginia and Virginia that welcomed black people,” said Jean Vannorsdall, an Alleghany County Supervisor and leader of the effort to save the park.

It was a place for African-Americans to go in the days when they were unwelcome at Douthat State Park.

In modern times, it’s fallen into disuse, and the forest service says maintenance funds just aren’t there.

“Yeah, it’s very heartbreaking, because it’s such a beautiful place," Marshall said. "Not only a historical place, it was beautiful visually.”

“Some of the buildings are beginning to need a little work," said Steve Nicely, who grew up nearby. "They’ve all been redone, they’re all in pretty good shape, but without any maintenance that’s not going to last long.”

“It’s all a matter of money," according to Vannorsdall. "So we’re exploring different venues for raising some money to keep the park open and to get it the historical recognition it deserves.”

A place to share memories, and once restored, maybe make some more.

“Once it’s maintained, there’s all kind of possibilities," Nicely said. "We just need to figure out what those possibilities are.”