One of the most intriguing parts of the early years of Boxwell Reservation was its working farm operation. Most people know that a farm was on the property, but don’t know where it was or what it involved. We tackled this topic in a series of posts in December 2015. It seemed like a good time to revisit those.
Lest there be any question, none of the meat or produce from the farm was ever used for summer camp meals. It was all to raise revenue to help offset the cost of summer camp, which was considered a revenue loser. The operation was shuttered in the wake of the Akers investigation. 1975 was the last summer of Boxwell the Farm.
One of the great stories about Ward Akers and the creation of Boxwell Reservation involved the waterfronts. As the story goes, Akers was able to pour concrete pads all over the property–and install the steel uprights–where he wanted the waterfronts to be. How was he able to do such a thing? He had a map.
Compiled on July 15, 1954, a topographic map of the property that would be Boxwell Reservation was given to Akers. The map showed exactly where the water level was going to rise to when to Corp of Engineers completed Old Hickory Dam in 1956. The map allowed Akers to physically walk the property that would be Boxwell and determine what areas would make good waterfronts. He could see the landscape and he knew what the water depth was going to be.
How did he come to have such incredibly valuable information? U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Gilbert M. Dorland, the District Engineer for the Nashville District. He also happened to be the Council President for the Middle Tennessee Council from 1954 to 1956. With this information in hand, Akers and Council secured over 700 acres at the site through lease or purchase by the end of 1955 so that when the dam completed the following year, they would be ready.
Here is a copy of the July 15, 1954 Topographic map Akers used when planning the property.
On this Day, Monday, April 11, 1949, the Executive Committee announced that Boxwell was moving. The camp would be moving to a new location–the summer home of the University of Michigan football coach Fielding Yost. Yost had passed away and his children were not interested in what was essentially hunting property. Council Executive Ward Akers did not care for the Narrows of the Harpeth location and so this new site in Walling, TN was secured. On lease at first, it was purchased outright for $12,000 later in the year. But it was this Monday in 1949 that was the start of “Boxwell III,” or the Rock Island Boxwell.
The article here shows the work that went into building the camp in June 1959. “200 Acres near Rock Island Soon To Start Humming,” Nashville Tennessean, June 12, 1959, pg. 24
On this day, Friday, April 10, 1959, eight Scouts from Troop 13 camped out on the patio of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce at 310 Union St. They camped for less than 24 hours, just 3pm Friday to 1pm Saturday, but did cook out on the concrete deck. And why engage in this short-term spectacle? The boys were trying to bring publicity to the Council’s Capital Campaign to build a new Scout Camp on Old Hickory Lake.
On this day, Saturday, April 9, 1932, after merging with two other Councils in 1930—and adopting their camps as well—some internal policy was needed to govern how the camps would work. The Nashville council adopted a resolution that all the areas cooperate in the operation of Boxwell as the central camp and that Field executives would run their area camps, such as Camp Fisher in Manchester. These other camps would be recognized as official encampments, but Boxwell was the council’s primary camp. Interestingly, Camp Fisher ran one more summer and disappeared into history…