The queen of the Seneca Trail

Kump Center will host an Exhibit of 1930s Forest Festival Memories and first floor tours of the Kump House Oct. 1-4. The public may have a sneak preview of the exhibit Sunday, September 21 at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Drive way to Kump Center from Old Seneca Road.

The displays will include artifacts, photographs, and interpretations of the lifestyle in Elkins during the days of the Great Depression.

Some historians say that parts of West Virginia were suffering from economic decline fifteen years before the rest of the nation, but leaders in Elkins were not inclined to bemoan the financial


Instead, they decided to hold an event to attract people to Elkins and to showcase the beauty of the region and the potential for local development.

The programs from the first ten years of the Forest Festival offer a wealth of information on the history of Trans-Allegheny pioneers and their conflicts with Native Americans. The 1933 program includes an advertisement for a collectible “cachet” or medallion featuring an American Indian chief on horseback.

The perimeter engravings read: “MTN STATE FOREST FESTIVAL * OCT -6-7-8-1932 * ELKINS W. VA. “QUEEN OF THE SENECA TRAIL.”

If you have one of these collectible cachets, call 304- 637-7820.

The idea of the Seneca Trail as an Indian war path is included in the first Forest Festival pageant with episodes showing scenes of early settlers such as the massacre at the Files family cabin, a narrow escape for the Tygart family, and an Indian attack at Roney’s Fort.

A military spirit of patriotism was clearly part of local pride in the 1930s. The first pageant emphasized the idea that Randolph County settlers had to struggle for their land in scenes from the “Revolutionary War,” the Civil War “Battle of Rich Mountain,” and the [First] “World War.”

Economic development was also heroic in episodes telling the “Progress of Coal” and the “Coming of West Virginia Central” [Railroad]. Elkins and the surrounding towns used the early Forest Festival programs to advertise for the local


The Elkins Business Men’s Association proclaimed that Elkins was the “Gem of the Mountains,” and the “Heart of the New Vacation Land.”

They did not acknowledge the discouragement of the Depression Era in their efforts to rebuild the economy at the Forest