Madison County is not the only entity concerned with preserving its history and historic buildings. The Shenandoah National Park (SNP) through its partnership with the Shenandoah National Park Trust is currently raising money to continue repairs and rehabilitation of the Pinnacle Research Station near milepost 37 on the west side of Skyline Drive.
The Pinnacle Research Station, originally built in 1935, is one of two Civilian Conservation Corps camp buildings remaining in Shenandoah National Park alongside the Piney River camp and is currently the only Civilian Conservation Corps camp still in use.
“Pinnacle Research Facility is a really unique facility in that it honors the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but is also fully functional,” SNP Trust President Susan Sherman said, noting the facility supports upwards of 700 researchers and volunteers each year.
SNP Public Affairs Officer Karen Beck-Herzog said the Civilian Conservation Corps was extremely instrumental in developing SNP.
“They built trails, overlooks, and planted shrubs and trees along Skyline Drive as well as developed picnic and camping grounds,” she said. “Much of the park infrastructure was developed by the corps, which had a huge influence on what the park looks like and the recreational opportunities and amenities that visitors have today.”
Beck-Herzog mentioned the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club as just one of the volunteer organizations that uses the Pinnacle Research Facility as well as a number of researchers.
“The park benefits from the research and volunteer training [that occurs at the Pinnacle Research Center],” she said. “The benefits may not be directly visible to visitors, but directly benefits the park—indirectly benefiting park visitors.”
Since the rehabilitation project does not visibly benefit park visitors, SNP cannot use park entrance fees to fund the project, which is why Beck-Herzog said the partnership with the SNP Trust is so imperative.
“Pinnacle Research Facility is a historic structure and while SNP is concerned about maintaining its historic structures, this facility wouldn’t contend well for funds from the National Park Service,” Beck Herzog said, noting SNP can compete against other parks for special project dollars from the National Park Service. Also, the National Park Service provides operational funding for the park but there is often not enough to work on special projects like Pinnacle Research Facility. “There are limited funds available for this project.”
Beck-Herzog said the trust has already helped with repairing the foundation of the Pinnacle Research Station.
“The footers had settled and the foundation was approximately four inches off,” she said. “The SNP Trust has helped raise money to bring in historic preservation specialists to straighten out the floor.”
However, Herzog added there are a number of other issues that need to be rectified at the facility such as mold issues, repair of historic windows and an overall facelift—painting, new flooring and new furniture.
“It’s a very rustic building and it’s not extremely pleasant to stay there because of the mold issues,” she said. “We are looking to make it a better working environment for researchers who will reside there and make their overnight experience vastly better.”
Beck-Herzog stressed the importance of the project.
“These structures are important to our park history and the history of our country and are owned by all of us as Americans,” she said. “This is their park and the research conducted at Pinnacle Research Station will benefit the park into perpetuity.”
Sherman said the rehabilitation project will cost $150,000 and the SNP has raised approximately $80,000 so far and hopes to have the project completed by late fall of this year. She also noted the growing importance of non-profit organizations like the SNP Trust.
“Philanthropic partners are becoming increasingly important and playing a larger role in sustaining and enhancing national parks,” she said, noting there are 150 similar philanthropic groups nationally, many associated with specific national parks. “Federal funding is just not keeping pace. This is a way to bring private philanthropy to support national parks.” Sherman agreed with Beck-Herzog on the importance of this rehabilitation project, which is two-fold: enhancing a functional facility while preserving a historic structure. “Financial investment in this project will reap dividends for years to come,” she added.
To learn more about the Pinnacle Research Facility repair and rehabilitation project, the SNP Trust or to donate, visit www.snptrust.org. Checks can also be sent to the SNP Trust addressed to 414 East Market Street, Suite A, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22902.