Harrison Bay State Park celebrates 75th with summer of fun

Harrison Bay State Park celebrates 75th with summer of fun

June 12th, 2013 by Meghan Pittman in Local Regional News

One of Hamilton County's favorite pieces of nature has an anniversary coming up.

Harrison Bay State Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary Sunday, June 16 with a day full of activities complete with birthday cake. Program director Matthew Vawter said the park's staff is excited to celebrate the milestone.

"Harrison Bay State Park has survived for 75 years as a place where people can go to have fun and connect with our natural and cultural heritage," said Vawter. "We hope that it continues to do so in perpetuity."

The day of activities features a historic timeline and the presentation of the Tennessee State Parks 75th Anniversary Trailer. Other activities will take visitors back in time to the old site of downtown Harrison. (For a full schedule, visit tn.gov/environment/parks/HarrisonBay/docs/birthday-2013.pdf.)

The old town of Harrison, as the early 1930s knew it, was flooded by the creation of the Chickamauga Dam. The leftover TVA land then became Harrison Bay State Park.

"We will also be taking a canoe trip [on June 16] out to the islands located over where old Harrison is submerged," Vawter said. "There will be a ranger-led hike to several [Civilian Conservation Corps] structures in the park and some old-time games to show how people used to spend their time."

The CCC was formed when the land for Harrison Bay was deeded over to the state to build the park.

In addition to the 75th anniversary celebration, Harrison Bay is featuring an entire summer full of activities for guests and members of the community.

"We offer a wide range of programs that encourage pleasurable encounters with the natural and scenic areas of our park and help visitors feel a connection to our culture and history," Vawter said. "It is also important for us to make people aware of the park to help us conserve it for the future."

The best part, he added, is that the majority of the programs are free and require no prior registration.

For the ones that do, like canoe trips, eagle tours, photo safaris and the Junior Ranger camp, contact the office at 344-6214. For more information and to keep track of future summer activities, visit the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park Facebook page at facebook.com/FriendsOfHarrisonBay. Don't forget that as of earlier this spring, the park has joined all Tennessee State Parks in an online camping reservation system. Visit tn.gov/environment/parks/HarrisonBay to make reservations.