A Unique Wilderness State Park
In 1968, the state of New Hampshire and the federal government began the process of securing a large, unfragmented tract of land for a new state park in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire. Half of the funding was provided by the state, the other half through the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, administered at that time by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and now by the National Park Service.
Federal matching funds were provided explicitly for the “planning, acquisition, and development of recreational resources” 1 throughout the United States. In a state rich in public lands, Pisgah became the largest state park in New Hampshire (second largest in New England, after Baxter State Park in Maine) and one with a unique mission.
Southwestern State Park, soon renamed Pisgah State Park, officially opened in 1972. As founding documents state (see park creation timeline below), the park would be “for both day-use and camping, with emphasis on the wilderness experience.” 2
The NH Division of Parks, under the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), was the state agency named as responsible for the operation and maintenance of the property, which is located in the towns of Chesterfield, Hinsdale, and Winchester 3.
Park Creation Timeline
The following documents detail the founding of the park from concept to reality, culminating with Governor John W. King and the Executive Council approving the proposal of a “State Park in the Pisgah Wilderness Area” on May 14, 1968.
- February 6, 1968
“Southwestern State Park” Proposal from DRED Commissioner R.J. Crowley, Jr. to Governor John W. King
- February 9, 1968
Acquisition Project Proposal from DRED Commissioner R.J. Crowley, Jr. to U.S. Dept. of the Interior Northeast Regional Director, Rolland B. Handley
- February 14, 1968
Acquisition Project Proposal, signed by DRED Commissioner R.J. Crowley
- May 14, 1968
Governor John W. King and Executive Council approve the creation of Pisgah State Park