Author looking for local history on park
Published 11:42 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022
By ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH | Community Columnist
Eric Cox of Panama City, Florida grew up coming to Alabama for vacations and to visit family. He is an avid hiker, has hiked along the Appalachian Trail and has begun passing that legacy to his children. During one of his hiking voyages, he learned of Flagg Mountain and first visited the park in December 2019.
“The Appalachian Trail begins at Flagg Mountain on the Pinhoti Trail in Weogufka,” said Cox. “When I first visited Flagg Mountain, we fell in love with it. There is a different feeling that visitors experience —almost ethereal.”
Upon further investigation, Cox realized that not much of the park’s history has been documented. He is looking for local residents that can give insight about the park’s history, former rangers and changes that have been made through the years to include in his book “Missing Pieces: The Story of Flagg Mountain.”
“The site was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps initiated by President Roosevelt,” said Cox. “Many people that visit the Flagg Mountain don’t realize that there was a large bunk house at the base of the mountain that housed 200 workers. They would hold dances there. Some of the Civilian workers were from New York and met their future wives at those dances. They wound up staying in the area instead of returning to New York.”
Originally called Weogufka State Park, the park became known as Flagg Mountain after the park system sold the location to the forestry department.
Flagg Mountain, only a thirty minute drive from Clanton, lost much of the documented history after that transition.
“Some of the history is available through the Civilian website, but not much else is known,” said Cox. “During the 1980s there was a group of people within the Alabama Hiking Trail Society that organized efforts to put new roofs on the buildings. They are the reason that the park stayed intact. They are accredited with saving Flagg Mountain.”
Cox has plans to visit the area in November to speak with families that have memories of the park during the 1940s and 1950s. He is interested in speaking with anyone that has history on previous park rangers, photos and structural history. His goal is to collect information until the end of the year and then begin working on the book.
“One of the most amazing things about Flagg Mountain is that most of the people that are accredited with saving and restoring it over the years, came across it by accident,” said Cox. “In the 1980s a man found it listed in an encyclopedia, but couldn’t find any real evidence of its existence because it isn’t part of the park system anymore. He set out to find it and that is when he began fundraising to save it. Many people have that same experience — of just accidentally coming across it.”
Anyone with information about the park can contact Cox by email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook under Eric Lydell.