Family Remembers Father by Continuing Lost River Travel Tradition

Longtime visitor shares her favorite family memories from vacationing at Lost River State Park.

You could say Lost River State Park was like a second home for Jack Dixon. The Maryland resident visited the park with his family for more than 50 years.

“I have such intense memories of our happy times in Lost River,” said Jack’s daughter, Nancy Dixon. “We hiked all the trails and I knew them like the back of my hand. Dad’s favorite was Loblolly because it was lined with mountain laurel, so we often came in June when it was in bloom.”

Jack Dixon made his final visit to Lost River in 2013, and got to see his beloved mountain laurel one last time as his family pushed him in his wheelchair along Loblolly Trail. He passed away last October at the age of 91.

“His last request was to be in the mountains,” Nancy said.

Honoring her father’s wish, Nancy has commissioned a memorial bench to be constructed from park wood and placed at the Loblolly trailhead.

“It means the world to me and my family that he can be remembered in this place that he loved. And I hope the park will be a gathering place for years to come for my family.”

Childhood Memories

It was Jack Dixon’s love of the mountains that drew him to Lost River State Park, where his family began their annual vacation tradition in the 1950s.

“My mom, dad, sister Sally and brother Dan went pretty much every year through our childhood,” Nancy said. “You always knew what to expect. Even with the changes over the last 50 years, the tranquility remained. Lost River allowed family to be at the forefront.”

Unencumbered by electronic distractions like TV and phones, the family spent quality time together talking, playing games and enjoying the outdoors. In the evenings they would sit on the porch and listen to whippoorwills and bobwhites singing in the woods.

To the Dixons, Lost River became a second home where park staff were extended family members.

“The superintendents were very engaged with vacationers and I have strong recollection of each, starting with Mr. and Mrs. Eye,” Nancy said. “The riding stables also add an important dimension to the park. My first memory of a horse was with Mr. Evans riding Major on the trail. In those days the horses went to the top of the ridge to graze. On Tuesday morning you heard the horses trotting down the road and we all ran from our cabin to watch the show.”

A New Generation

Nancy continued her regular visits to Lost River when she left home to study at West Virginia University. These days, she brings her own college-age children, Kathryn and Patricia.

“I have been to Lost River about 50 times,” she said. “I have developed a love and respect for the people of the valley and I am so grateful that my girls got to visit the park many times with my dad, and now with me. They have been captivated by the peace, beauty, and people of West Virginia and Lost River. It is rare to find a place like this and I am so glad that my dad can be memorialized in the mountains that he loved.”

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