Visits to Lake Shawnee

Contributed by Karen Stuebing

The Lake Shawnee Resort (and later Amusement Park) opened in 1926 and closed in 1966. Those who visited during Our Years will remember the carnival rides, a very cold spring-fed swimming pool, dance pavilion, concession stands, and cabins for overnight guests. There were unfortunate deaths at the park, including a young boy who drowned in the pool. There are stories about a young girl killed on the rotary swing when a delivery truck accidentally backed into its path, but this hasn't been documented.

Many of us didn't know that the resort was built on the site of the Mitchell Clay Indian massacre in the late 1700's. Mitchell Clay was the first white settler in what is now Mercer County. One day while the men were away hunting, Indians rode down from the ridge and killed and began to scalp one of the boys who was working in the fields. When his sister came to his aid, she too was killed. Another boy was kidnapped. A posse followed but the Indians split into two groups. The men followed them into Boone County and killed several Indians before realizing the Clay boy was not there. After they backtracked and pursued the second band who had fled to Ohio, they arrived only moments after the third child had been burned at the stake. Because of this early history and more recent deaths of children, the place is sometimes referred to as the Haunted Amusement Park but this distracts from its substantial history as a resort that attracted families throughout southern West Virginia.

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