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gem icon Rapidan Camp [Suggest Edits]

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In 1929, the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, purchased 162 acres in this area for his summer weekend retreat. The camp, which was built up by the Marines, provided Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, a place to rest and recreate during the later, more difficult years after the stock market crash and ensuing economic depression. Hidden among the hemlocks along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Rapidan Camp sits where two small streams join to form the Rapidan River.

Rapidan Camp was the first development specifically created as a presidential retreat. It grew to consist of 13 buildings that were all connected by a number of paths and stone or wood bridges. The architect was hired by Lou Henry Hoover and given strict instructions to make an effort to blend the structures in with the surrounding natural environment.

The centerpiece for the camp was “The Brown House” or “President’s” cabin. This building is located where the two streams, Mill Prong and Laurel Prong, converge to form the Rapidan River. The buildings were simple with many windows, a bedroom, bathroom, and porch.

Today, you can visit three of the original Rapidan Camp buildings. "The Brown House", "The Prime Minister" cabin, where Ramsey MacDonald stayed, and "The Creel." A number of the trails, bridges, and man-made features can also be explored. Look for the markers that indicate where the other buildings originally stood that no longer exist.

The National Park Service restored the "The Brown House" and "The Prime Minister" cabin to reflect how the buildings originally looked in 1932. The restored interior of "The Brown House" and the museum inside "The Prime Minister" cabin are open during ranger-led tours.

Half-Day Hike: Parking can be found at the Milam Gap Parking Area. Head east on the Mill Prong Trail, continuing onto the Mill Prong Horse Trail as it follows alongside Mill Prong. This out-and-back hike comes in around four miles with a few stream crossings along the way.

Family Friendly: An interesting property with historical significance in the middle of the woods, east of Skyline Drive.

Gem Type: Historic Site

Shared by:
Zander Göpfert


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Nov 3, 2018
Chris McCloud
Visited with Jiaxin in November 2018
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Shared by Zander Göpfert on May 19, 2016. All Page Views: 558. Last Month: 33.