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Tents and Cannonballs

In 1954, the Surrender Grounds Forest was transferred to the Commonwealth of Virginia by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The Commonwealth continued to operate a day-use park for a while. Campsites and a primitive bath house were added sometime in the 1950s. It officially became known as Holliday Lake State Park in 1972. An upgrade in the campground around 1980 included a modern bath house with hot showers.

Camping at Holliday Lake around 1970

Camping at Holliday Lake around 1970 (tent)

Recreating a 1970s campsite at Holliday Lake

A model campsite representing the 1970s

The lake continued to provide activities for local families, including fishing, picnicking, boating and swimming. Many youngsters (including me) learned to swim in the calm, shallow water here. More than a few have done cannonballs off the diving board. In 1980, the concession stand and beach bath house got a major renovation. Up until the early 1990s, there was a tall slide and two diving boards in the deep swimming area.

Fun in the sun at Holliday Lake in 1968

Fun in the sun at Holliday Lake in 1968

Simming area at Holliday Lake around 1970

Swimming area at Holliday Lake around 1970

Many people ask about the spelling of Holliday Lake. Why the two Ls? I wish I had a definitive answer! A survey map from 1934 lists "Holy Day Creek." But everything else I've seen lists "Holliday" with the two Ls. It's possible that because of bad hearing or bad writing, a mistake was made on that survey. Another theory is that the lake was named for a Holliday family. There were some Hollidays in Central Virginia in the mid-1800s, but my research fails to get them anywhere close to Appomattox or Buckingham counties. So that remains a mystery. Holiday Lake 4-H Center uses just one L. I've heard that they began using two, but somewhere one was left out (perhaps by mistake) of an important document and it was never corrected. They've used just one L ever since.

Camping at Holliday Lake today

Camping at Holliday Lake today

The campground really opened up Holliday Lake to people from all over. It quickly became a place for families to visit for a week-end get away and week long vacations. Civil War buffs can camp here and visit Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and other Civil War sites in Central Virginia. It's surprising how many people visit from other countries, from Canada, Germany and many others. It's such a pleasure to share this gem of Central Virginia with our friends from all over.

Holliday Lake State Park continues to grow and change as we strive to meet the needs of the public. A new campground and bath house were added a couple years ago that can accommodate much larger campers. We've added more trails for hikers and have plans to expand even more in the future.

This is the sixth article in a series about the park. If you missed the earlier articles, catch up on them here:

Arrowhead and Projectile Points
Land Grants and Large Extended Families

he Jones Girls and Their Brothers
Marching to Appomattox

Mules and Cut Cross Saws

Holliday Lake State Park is located off Route 24 between Appomattox and U.S. 60 and from Routes 626, 640 and 692. For more information click here, or call the park office at 434-248-6308 or by email.

Published: 05/25/2014

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