LAKE WEDINGTON
15592 Lake Weddington Entry

Fayetteville, AR 72704
(479) 442-3527

             


Lake Wedington is a well-known and loved recreational facility about 15 miles west of Fayetteville along State Highway 16. The project to build the dam, cabins and other buildings took place during the period 1935 through 1938. Common belief is that the whole project was either a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) or Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. However neither agency actually were responsible for the project. The original name of the project was "The Northwest Arkansas Forestry, Pasture Making, Grazing and Recreational Project". This project began under the Rural Resettlement Administration which later became the Farm Security Administration. President Roosevelt and Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace developed a number of programs aimed at preserving the rural way of life, including the Rural Resettlement Administration.

The Northwest Arkansas program had its beginnings on paper in early 1935 and work actually began in November 1935. The initial plan was to buy some 80,000 acres of farm land from some 3,000 families but was scaled back to encompass 18,000 acres, displacing 163 families. The goal was to remove sub-marginal agricultural land from production and resettle the farmers on more productive land. The land bought from the farmers was to be developed as a natural and scenic area for recreational and educational purposes. The families displaced were either resettled on better land or were given long term loans. While some saw this as a blessing and opportunity, others saw it as invasion by the federal government.

While the project itself was not a CCC nor WPA project, the laborers, as many as 500, were paid by the WPA. Farmers whose land was bought for the project had first chance at the construction jobs. Project staff was paid by the Soil Conservation Service including C B Wiggans who was project manager. Mr. Wiggans assembled a staff including a number who became prominent men in the area. Paul Young was the project architect and went on to be one of the area's most successful architects. In addition to the buildings and lake, the remaining land was planted in grass or trees. The pasture land, some 6,000 acres was reworked and planted in Bermuda, Bluestem and Lespedeza for grazing. A total of 350,000 trees, including pine, locust and black walnut were planted and 1,000 acres was planted in food for wildife. Several cabins were built, rustic but comfortable. Six of the original cabins have survived, thanks only to a group called Friends of Lake Wedington started in 1988 by several people including the daughter of C B Wiggans, Ann Wiggans Sugg.

The lake began to fill and in April 1938 a dedication was held for the new Lake Wedington. The project finished in 1940 and the recreation area was leased to a concessionaire. The lake and recreration area have served countless numbers of people over the years, drawing people from Texas and many other states. Management of Lake Wedington has passed among several organizations including the University of Arkansas, US and State Forest Services and private concessionaires. It currently is administered by the U S Forest Service.

Bibliography:
Wiggans Hole: History of Lake Wedington by Veronica McGlumphy Flashback Spring 2008
Memories of Lake Wedington by Ann Wiggans Sugg Flashback Spring 2008



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