The 29 Rustic Style buildings and structures within the Whitewater State Park Historic District represent a particularly diverse collection of historic resources. Located along picturesque limestone bluffs in the valley of the Whitewater River, the 563-acre historic district defines the original boundaries of Whitewater State Park Park during its development by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. The resources within the district were generally built with limestone quarried from within the park. Architects for the park buildings were from the Central Design Office of the National Park Service and the Design Office within the Minnesota Division of State Parks.
The park’s historic district includes these resources:
Dam and Foot Bridge
Warehouse & Garage
Water Supply Tank
Whitewater State Park is the only state-owned recreational facility in southeastern Minnesota. Whitewater State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style historic resources are architecturally significant as an outstanding collection of rustic style buildings and structures featuring native limestone construction. The Shelter Building, Dam and Footbridge in particular are exceptional examples of rustic design built with stone and timber. The landscape design for Whitewater State Park, a notable achievement in master planning, successfully located the various functional areas of the park on a problematic site that included land on both sides of State Highway 74.
Whitewater State Park was established in 1919 in order to protect the natural resources in the scenic Whitewater River valley. In the 1930s, the park became one of three in the state which was developed by both CCC and WPA transient camps. CCC Camp SP-4 first occupied the park on April 28, 1934 and a second camp, SP-9, moved into the park on July 1, 1934. The first camp moved to another location on September 30, 1934 and left SP-9 to begin the large scale development of the park. However, in October 1935, when the state's quota of CCC camps was reduced, the camp was abandoned with park development only partially completed.
In February 1936 a WPA transient camp was assigned to the park and progress continued. The camp was housed in the same facility occupied by the CCC at a site within the park just south of the Whitewater River and east of State Highway 74. Many of the camp buildings were retained for group camp purposes after the work programs were completed. During World War II, German prisoners of war who worked on local farms were housed in the CCC/WPA camp buildings. Unfortunately, the entire camp was destroyed by a tornado in 1953.
For current information about Whitewater State Park, go to the DNR website.