Jackson's Mill State 4-H Conference Center is located just a few miles off I-79 between the Lewis County communities of Jane Lew and Weston. It is a spot of natural beauty with an ambiance that touches the hearts of all who visit there. Named in honor of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, the center annually serves hundreds of thousands as they come for classes, conferences, banquets, family reunions, and festivals and to visit the five-acre Historic Area where "Stonewall" Jackson spent his boyhood years. The grounds of the center were the homestead farm of the Jackson family until 1876 when it was purchased by William and Huldah Moxley.
The Moxleys lost it in 1886; and, Joseph Clifton, a miller from Weston bought the farm. Clifton's daughter sold the property to A.T. Watson following her parents' deaths. In 1915 he transferred title to the Monongahela Valley Traction Company. There was talk at this time of turning the property into a memorial park honoring its famous former resident, "Stonewall" Jackson; and, in 1919, a stone marker was placed on the site in his memory. The old Jackson farm had become a popular spot for picnics and outings, and a concrete bridge over the West Fork River was constructed. It linked the property with the M.V.T.C. trolley station that had been established across the river from the old mill.
In 1920 West Virginia 4-H leaders felt a need for a central meeting place where boys and girls from all over the state could gather. Jackson's Mill was suggested. William "Teepi" Kendrick and Charles Hartley of the State 4-H staff visited the Mill and were impressed with the potential of the property. They convinced the M.V.T.C. to donate five acres (which included the mill) to the state as a 4-H campsite. In 1921 an act of the West Virginia Legislature named Jackson's Mill as the state 4-H camp, the first such camp in the nation. It was placed under the care of West Virginia University.
The first camp was held the same year. Dedicated to providing educational and leadership opportuntities for boys and girls of the Mountain State, the camp soon became one of the best known spots in the state as youth from every country traveled to the Mill for the camps.
Today, Jackson's Mill is a shrine to "Stonewall" Jackson and to 4-H in West Virginia. It is much more than a museum. It is a living institution which is continually expanding and changing, meeting the needs of the present, preparing for the future, and preserving the past.
Where once the programs at the Mill were primarily devoted to providing state 4-H'ers with education in agricultural and home economics skills combined with leadership training, today's programs are much broader and more comprehensive. The center now serves West Virginians of all ages, providing them a variety of educational programs.
Jackson's Mill still retains its designation as the official state 4-H camp; but approximately one hundred other organizations use the facilities annually. Boys' State, Girls' State, the United Methodist Church, Extension Homemakers, DeMolay, the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants, Preston County High School Band, Morgantown High School Band, Lewis County Board of Education, Consolidated Natural Gas, the Farm Bureau, and Elderhostels on a variety of topics are just a few of the diverse organizations who use the facilities at Jackson's Mill.
The premier event at Jackson's Mill for the past twenty-some years has been the Stonewall Jackson Heritage Arts & Crafts Jubilee. Conceived by a group of Lewis Countians in 1974 to showcase West Virginia arts and crafts and named in honor of the Jubilee festivals held at the Mill in the 1920s and '30s, the present-day Jubilee draws approximately 75,000 visitors to the Mill each Labor Day weekend.
The backdrop for the activity at Jackson's Mill is one of open fields bordered by quiet woods, winding roads, and sidewalks flanked by stately trees, and bright colors of an occasional garden. Scattered about the 523 acres of the complex are numerous buildings including fourteen cottages, the Jackson Lodge, the Mount Vernon Dining Hall, the West Virginia Building, the All Faiths Prayer Chapel, a large livestock complex, and the five-acre Historic Area. Also featured are an outdoor theater, numerous gardens and shrines, and recreational facilities that include tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, baseball and softball fields, a swimming pool, several picnic shelters, and _ travel-trailer sites.
Many of the buildings and facilities at Jackson's Mill are a tribute to the 4-H'ers and other interested citizens and groups from throughout the state who made them possible. With funds raised or donated from various sources and work completed by thousands of volunteers hands, they stand as a representation of the deep-seated affection most West Virginians and former West Virginians have for this state treasure.
For most of the last seventy-five years, the five-acre Historic Area of Jackson's Mill, has been off-limits to public visitation during times when campers have been present. Recent changes, including the addition of two relocated historic structures, Blaker's Mill and the Conrad Cabin, and the multi-purpose Mountain State Building which houses public restrooms, have made it possible for the Historic Area to be open daily during the summer and on weekends in May, September, and October. Admission is charged and group rates are available.
For information about meetings rooms and camp dates at Jackson's Mill 4-H Conference Center, contact:
Kerns, Terry. Jackson's Mill, Wonderful West Virginia, 1974. As published in the Weston Independent August 14, 1974.
Meador, Michael M. Historic Jackson's Mill: A Walking Tour (Parsons: McClain Publishing Company), 1991.
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