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Near Elkton in Page County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Lewis Mountain Dilemma

Shenandoah National Park

 
 
Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 17, 2019
1. Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker
Inscription.  
"Laws and generally accepted customs"
When Shenandoah first welcomed visitors in 1936, Virginia was a "Jim Crow" state, its laws requiring segregation of the races. This created a dilemma for the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. As managers scrambled to provide lodging, campgrounds, and other amenities, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes prodded them about their plans for black visitors.

Ickes was a Civil Rights advocate. When African American singer Marian Anderson was banned from singing at Constitution Hall, Ickes arranged her famous concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Ickes's beliefs were at odds with the policy of the NPS which called for separate facilities, to "conform to the generally accepted customs long established in Virginia."

Ickes agreed to follow the policy, but continued to argue for an end to segregation in national parks. The Lewis Mountain development opened in 1939 for the "exclusive use of negroes." Throughout Shenandoah, signs and maps directed visitors to "White Only" and "Negro" areas. Complaints rolled in.

In that same year, Ickes ordered the beginning
Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker<br>(<i>top panel • "Laws and generally accepted customs"</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 17, 2019
2. Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker
(top panel • "Laws and generally accepted customs")
of gradual desegregation, opening Pinnacles Picnic Grounds to all visitors. Finally in 1950 Shenandoah National Park's facilities were legally integrated, nearly a decade and a half before other public areas in Virginia would be forced to desegregate by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"It was a hopping joint!"
Lloyd Tutt managed Lewis Mountain from 1941 to 1953, creating a fun and relaxing atmosphere for both locals and tourists, many returning year after year. Lewis Mountain became so well known for its fabulous food that Tutt relented and allowed whites to use the dining room.

"My boss said all I had to do was keep the colored people separate from the white people. Although I kept the lodge and campground separate, whites came to our dining room because of the food."

The family of Chester A. Franklin, publisher of Kansas City's The Call, a prominent Black newspaper, vacationed at Lewis Mountain regularly. President Harry S Truman visited twice with Mr. Franklin at Lewis Mountain. He was accompanied by Brigadier General Benjamin 0. Davis Jr., the U.S. Army's first African American general. The three gentlemen and their families ate together at Lewis Mountain Lodge.

(bottom panel photo captions)
• "It was a relief for us… we had free run… and we were treated in a way that American citizens should be treated."
-Lewis
Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker<br>(<i>bottom panel • "It was a hopping joint"</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 17, 2019
3. Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker
(bottom panel • "It was a hopping joint")
Mountain visitor, 2010
"Everyone had fun, enjoyed the scenery and each other. Tired people… left there relaxed and happy."
-Lloyd Tutt, far left, poses with three unknown visitors.
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 38° 26.136′ N, 78° 28.677′ W. Marker is near Elkton, Virginia, in Page County. Marker can be reached from Skyline Drive (at milepost 57.5), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. This marker is one side of an interpretive kiosk located near the restroom building in Shenandoah National Park's Lewis Mountain Campground. Marker is in this post office area: Elkton VA 22827, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Pleasure and Joy (approx. 2.1 miles away); Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 3.1 miles away); A Rather Biggish Establishment (approx. 4.9 miles away); Camp Hoover (approx. 4.9 miles away); "Here is peace and quietude" (approx. 4.9 miles away); Rapidan Camp (approx. 4.9 miles away); The Prime Minister’s Cabin (approx. 4.9 miles away); Mountain Streams in the Camp (approx. 4.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elkton.
 
More about this marker. This marker, located about 80 yards west of the Appalachian Trail, is physically in Page County, Virginia. The nearest post office, however, is in Elkton, Rockingham County, Virginia. This marker is one side of two three-sided kiosks at this location. The other five sides present park travel tips and the geography, flora and fauna of the area.
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsParks & Recreational Areas
 
Marker detail: Ickes and Anderson<br>at her Lincoln Memorial concert image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Ickes and Anderson
at her Lincoln Memorial concert
"It is bad enough that Jim-Crowism exists in southern states, but we fail to see how the Federal Government can countenance such discrimination."
-1939 letter to Secretary Ickes pointing out the inconsistency of championing Marian Anderson but allowing National Parks to discriminate
Marker detail: Chester A. Franklin • Harry S. Truman • General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: Chester A. Franklin • Harry S. Truman • General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker Kiosk (<i>wide view • east side • campground restrooms on right</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 17, 2019
6. Lewis Mountain Dilemma Marker Kiosk (wide view • east side • campground restrooms on right)
Lewis Mountain Sign<br>(<i>turn off Skyline Drive here to access marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 17, 2019
7. Lewis Mountain Sign
(turn off Skyline Drive here to access marker)
 

More. Search the internet for Lewis Mountain Dilemma.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 25, 2019. This page originally submitted on May 25, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 46 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on May 25, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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