WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s gone by several names over its 80-year history: American Legion State Park, Camp Palila, until they decided on something simple, just Legion.
“Legion State Park is one of the four original Civilian Conservation Corps parks. It was built-in the mid-1930s. Construction was finished in 1937,” said park manager, Tim Flake.
The reason for the several name changes is because the park wasn’t always under the state parks department.
“In 1955, the park was leased to the Pushmataha council of the Boy Scouts of America,” Flake said. “Boys Scouts used the park for 25 years until 1988.”
Then the park was reacquired by the state parks department, and Legion became its name.
The rich history of Legion can be seen in its lodge, which was made part of the Department of Archives and History in 1998.
“Legion Lodge was constructed as the same time that the park was built-in the 30’s, finished in 1937,” Flake said. “It has a very rustic architectural aspect to it. This building is one of a kind.”
Just down the hill are the park’s outdoor opportunities for visitors.
“We do have a nature trail around our larger lake. The trail is 1.9 miles in length,” Flake said with a reassurance that this wasn’t an easy 1.9 miles.
The trek is a workout.
You’d be surprised at the ups and downs you’ll find in Winston County.
If you noticed, Flake mentioned the trail is around their “larger” lake, meaning there’s more than one.
“We’ve got two lakes here,” Flake said. “We’ve got Lake Toppasha, which is about 14 acres, and then we have lake Palila, which is just down the hill here that’s about 3 acres.”
The lakes may not be big enough for boating or skiing, but Flake says the fish are always biting.
“Both of the lakes are stocked with brim and bass,” said Flake. “The larger lake, Lake Toppasha, does have some white crappie and some catfish.”
Wanting to make a weekend of your staycation?
Legion has pads for RV, tent, and primitive campers.
“Full hook-ups, water, sewer, electricity, 50 and 30 amp electricity on campground. We have 14 pads that we reserve over there,” Flake said.
The park’s cabins are where families can get a feel for when this park was first established.
Each one is from the 30’s.
“Our cabins are the rustic type cabins from the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps,” said Flake. “They have been restored, have been renovated, to modern conveniences.”
Interesting to note, the park did a survey with locals on if they wanted televisions in the cabins.
Flake says the verdict was near unanimous, a resounding no.
They like the peace and quiet.
Being a part of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) means keeping a certain standard on structures, and the cost is being helped out by local businesses, known as the Friends of Legion Park.
“They’re very expensive, and we are glad to have the friends group here on the park to help us out,” said Flake. “They’ve been a blessing to our park, they’ve been a blessing to our community and upkeep in the park. We’re just glad to have them, glad for everything that they do for us.”
This partnership allows the park to focus on what’s important: providing services to visitors.
“You know, family reunions, birthday parties, have some weddings down there in the fall of the year, that kind of thing. This little park has been one of the secrets of the state park system for a lot of years because we’re kind of in an out-of-the way place, off of the beaten path,” said Flake.
Be sure to check in with us next time for another walk in the park.
You can find information on rates and hours for Legion State Park here.
As always you can find the fascinating stories we found at each park, on our website, A Walk In The Park With Parker.