2016 is an important year in park history. Nationally, it marks the centennial of the National Park Service. On a local level, it’s the 100th anniversary of Camp Meenahga’s founding in Peninsula State Park. In recognition of these two anniversaries, this year’s Anderson Barn Museum exhibit is Two Roads Diverged: Camp Meenahga and Camp Peninsular in Peninsula State Park.
For over 100 years, Peninsula State Park has been a destination for locals and tourists alike. With its beautiful views of Green Bay and the surrounding villages, the park continues to draw thousands of visitors each year.
Many who visit set up camp, staying in one of the park’s 400+ campsites and joining a long tradition of staying, however temporarily, in the park. Native Americans, including members of the Potawatomi and Oneonta tribes, lived in what is now Peninsula State Park for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. Some of Ephraim’s earliest residents built homes in the park and a few remained even after Peninsula State Park was officially established in 1909. And for nearly two years, from August 1935 to June 1937, Peninsula State Park was home to two very different camps.
The first, Camp Meenahga, began in 1916 and was a summer camp for girls, where horseback riding, swimming, and dancing were some common pastimes. The second, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp named Camp Peninsular, housed young men, ages 18 to 25, who were unemployed, often uneducated, and in desperate need of financial relief due to the Great Depression. Though the camps were vastly different, they shared a common goal: to provide attendees with valuable training that would serve later in life.
The exhibit opens on Friday, June 17, 2016, in the Anderson Barn Museum and will feature artifacts and photographs from both camps. Be sure to stop in and see the exhibit and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts focusing on the individual camps.
Guest Blogger Emily Irwin