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Pennyrile Forest History

Established on July 9, 1954

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park located near Dawson Springs has some of the most beautiful forested land in the commonwealth. The 15,331-acre Pennyrile Forest is a showcase for Kentucky’s magnificent hardwood trees. On July 9, 1954 Pennyrile State Resort Park (originally called Pennyrile Forest State Park), became a part of the Kentucky State Parks System. The area had been under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture and other governmental agencies since the 1920s. The government wanted to restore the forests and the exhausted lands in the area. In the 1930s the National Parks Service and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) developed a 300-acre tract for recreational purposes. The WPA continued its work in the area until 1937 when the Kentucky Division of State Parks took responsibility for the land on an annual agreement basis. The state constructed a rustic lodge for visitors and made a number of improvements to the site. This continued until 1954 when the Kentucky Parks System took final oversight of the Pennyrile site.

The area that contains Pennyrile State Resort Park had two state parks in the 1930s and 1940s, Pennyrile State Park and Dawson Springs State Park. The Dawson Springs facility had 457 acres located near the Outwood Veteran’s Hospital. The University of Kentucky obtained a deed to this property in the 1950s and made it a 4-H Club Camp. Between 1948 and 1955, work continued on the Pennyrile property to establish a state resort park.

Pennyrile now has 863 acres with a 56-acre lake. The state had a new lodge constructed and with the completion of Lake Beshear in 1962, gave the area a 712-acre lake located in both Caldwell and Christian Counties.

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