The Original Craig Waterfront
While 2020 is the centennial of the Council, the year marks another anniversary: the end of the original Craig Waterfront. 1994 was the last year the small bay was used for aquatics. To commemorate, here are two photos of the original Waterfront as it appeared in 1990. Sadly, no one single photo captures the entire program area.
Of course, Craig’s waterfront area didn’t start as a waterfront. Even before the reservation was built, Executive Ward Akers had the foresight to lay down concrete pads in several areas where future waterfronts would go. When the Reservation opened in 1960, both Stahlman and Parnell regularly gave overnight canoe trips. Stahlman took their Scouts to a location called “the Baptist Lands” (a future post!), but Parnell took them to this odd, seemingly random “boat landing” area on the back side of the reservation. Scouts camped in what is the assembly area and dining hall location today. So, originally this area served as a boat landing.
When Craig was built as a result of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign, the bay returned to it’s original purpose: a waterfront. It continued performing this function from 1974 to 1994, a mere 20 years. And through most of those 20 years, the waterfront wasn’t even used as Craig and Parnell rotated summer camp duties from 1976 to 1994.
While a truly beautiful location (especially when the trees allowed it to be viewed from Craig’s veranda), the location suffered from two related issues that caused it to be closed down. The first was its proximity to the Channel on Old Hickory Lake (i.e. the Cumberland River). The channel brought a great deal of debris as well as boats… big boats… barges. Being on the channel made for complications on the waterfront itself and created some unsafe conditions for boating on the river/lake. The barges in particular led to waves and, occasionally, threatened to run over Scouts who weren’t the proficient boaters they needed to be.
The second related issue was the concrete pad itself. Likely because of the location on the channel, the concrete pad was deteriorating rapidly by the early 1990s. Huge holes developed where a Scout could get trapped or break a leg. Measures were taken to fix these problems, but by 1994, it was clear that these were not going to be quick fix issues. While Stahlman and Parnell were protected from the Channel and its related problems because of Explorer Island, Craig Waterfront was not. A new location was needed. And so, a major change of the 1994 Capital Campaign was moving the waterfront.
The photos here were taken by Waterfront Director Kerry Parker, who later spearheaded the move of the waterfront during his run as Program Director (1993-1996).
Craig Waterfront from the beach. You can see the different swimming areas and the canoes on the beach. The turnstile to enter was on the left. The staff site was even further to the left, where Site 17 is located now.
The original Craig Waterfront from the docks. Again, you can see the different swimmers’ areas clearly, but now the staff site is to the right. In the bottom right of the photo, you can see the turnstile and buddy board.