Taking a look at Camp Harding

July 31, 2000

Taking a look at Camp Harding

Editor's note: We asked our student interns this summer to take a look at Washington County attractions with a tourist's eyes. Through their reports, we hope you might rediscover attractions in our own back yard. This is the sixth in a series.

By JOSH POLTILOVE / Staff Writer

photo: RYAN ANSON / staff photographer

Licking CreekPECTONVILLE - Legend has it a cow recently was born in the water at Camp Harding County Park. Standing on legs as brittle as twigs, she struggled to get out and couldn't.

Eventually, she fought enough to make her way out of the stream and back toward the farm on the farther side of the park.

That's perhaps the only interesting story I heard or saw during my trip to the 18.5 acre park one July afternoon.


According to the Washington County Parks and Recreation Web site, President Warren G. Harding met with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone for three or four consecutive summers at the camp in the 1920s. But there are no signs at the park stating that significance.

To the average visitor, it's just a tiny, secluded park between Hancock and Clear Spring, similar to any other state park except with less known history.

Pat Temple, a nurse at Washington County Hospital since December, visited the park with four of her six kids during her day off. Her family goes to there about once a week, but due to the lack of park information she knew nothing of Camp Harding's history.

"I'd heard this was a farm that was sold to the county or donated," said Temple, whose friend supposedly saw the cow being born. "To me, one of the best things about this place is that there are a lot of trees to keep you shaded and that hardly anybody's here. It's very peaceful."

It is peaceful.

In the park area, there is a vacant tennis court, volleyball court, and basketball court. No kids slide down the slides or swing on the swings.

The water itself is quiet too - it moves slowly in some sections and only can be heard in a few others.

The lone disturbance today is the gnats, out in droves due to humidity and heat.

I walk around a while more, then climb up a hill to a local house. My plan is to knock on the door and ask the owners for more information about the park. Nobody is home, so I walk back to the stream, dejected.

Just when I think I can't be any more bored, I look toward the farther side of the park, perhaps 500 yards beyond the stream.

There, cows graze. I smile and feel at ease as I watch one calf scurry back to its mother.

Perhaps the legend is true.

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