About Lake White
Nature of the Area
Located in the Appalachian foothills near the Scioto River, Lake White State
Park supports a variety of natural wonders. The forested hills are similar in
character to the southern Appalachians with magnificent stands of oak,
hickory, tulip, ash, maple and scores of other hardwood species. In spring,
the forest trails are lined with flowering dogwood and redbud trees and
numerous woodland wildflowers. The sandstone outcroppings are coated
with various ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi including the prized morel
mushrooms in spring.
The dense forest and remoteness of the area create excellent habitat for
some of Ohio’s most elusive wildlife. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse and
the secretive wild turkey are abundant in this region. Red fox, skunk,
opossum, gray squirrel and raccoons are often sighted. Many reptiles and
amphibians find the park’s cool waters desirable.
History of the Area
The cultural history of this area dates back to the Adena and Hopewell
Indians who settled in the Scioto Valley around 800 B.C. These mound
building tribes left behind extensive earthworks throughout the Scioto Valley
region. Adena, near Chillicothe, was the site of the first mound excavation
attributed to these prehistoric people. Other mounds in the area include
Seip Mound, Spruce Hill, Fort Hill and Serpent Mound.
The Scioto River played an important role in the early history of this area.
Indian and frontiersmen alike paddled the stream from the Ohio River to the
heart of the new frontier. The Shawnee used the river as their primary
means of transportation from one village to another. The river also brought
the first European settlers to the area in the 1 790s. Many of these first
Ohioans were veterans of the Revolutionary War claiming land due them for
The construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal heightened the hopes of those
along its path who were destined to prosper from canal traffic. Initial plans
placed the canal through Piketon, bypassing Waverly. This aggravated an
intense rivalry between Piketon and Waverly citizens. After persistent
lobbying by Waverly promoters, the canal route was changed and Piketon
was bypassed. The Waverly cause was aided greatly by Ohio Speaker of
the House, at that time, Robert Lucas, who owned land near Waverly and
stood to gain greatly by the new route.
In 1832, the canal was opened. It was announced that the water would
reach Waverly on the morning of September 6, and preparations were made
to welcome its arrival. The canal banks were packed with residents for a
great distance, but the water never arrived. Unfortunately, it had hit an
expansive gravel deposit which absorbed most of the water. Eventually the
gravelly areas became saturated and the water reached Waverly by noon
much to the delight of cheering crowds.
The prosperity of the canal era was short lived. With the advent of rail
transportation, goods could be shipped more efficiently throughout the
country. As early as 1860, use of the canals had dropped dramatically. In
1913, the Ohio and Erie Canal was officially closed.
Part of Lake White State Park includes the remains of the old canal channel.
The lake was built during the depression by the Works Progress
Administration (W.P.A.). Most of the land surrounding the lake is privately
owned. Lake White was officially dedicated as a state park in 1949 when the
Division of Parks and Recreation was created.
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