Camp Helen State Park is bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare worldwide; in the United States they occur only along the Gulf Coast. Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans lived in the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for employees of an Alabama textile mill and some of the buildings are now being restored. Natural areas range from coastal dunes and salt marshes along the Gulf to freshwater wetlands and sand pine scrub along the lake. Activities include swimming, beachcombing, nature study, hiking, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Camp Helen is located on the eastern border of Inlet Beach, just before the Lake Powell bridge.
Big House, 1956
Robert and Margaret Hicks purchased the Camp Helen property in the 1930s. Mrs. Hicks called their home Loch Lomond. The lodge itself was started in 1931 and completed about a year later. Originally intending to make it their summer home, Mrs. Hicks made it her permanent home a year later when her husband died. She meant for it to be her private residence but the death of her husband accompanied, by the Great Depression forced her to accommodate paying guests on her property. She maintained the lodge as her private residence but employed a caretaker to manage the newly-built Rainbow Cottages for guests. Mrs. Hicks sold the property to Avondale Mills in 1945 and with the transfer of ownership also came the transfer of use. The lodge became a public space housing top-level Avondale Mills� management personnel and others. Avondale Mills operated Camp Helen as a recreation area from 1945 through 1987. The Camp Helen story might have ended there were it not for persistent area residents who believed the space should become a state park. In 1996, their dream became a reality and today the Big House, as it is affectionately called now, welcomes visitors to Camp Helen State Park.
Information adapted from http://sowal.com/park/camp-helen-state-park
March 29th, 2013
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