From the Archives, September 26, 2021

The Pump House

The Pump House has been undergoing a transformation in recent months. On Friday night it emerged from its renovations at the Centennial Scout Museum. As the Pump House begins its new life, we thought it might be nice to take a moment to explore its original creation. The Pump House was donated to the Council as part of the 1959 Capital Development Campaign by the Clover Bottom Development Center. It operated from 1959, pumping water from the lake, purifying that water, and then pumping the clean water up to the Water tower by the Crab. The Pump House was finally closed in 1976 when repairs were deemed too costly. The Reservation tied into Laguardo Water District.

At one point though, the pump house was quite an operation. If you’ve ever wondered how the Pump House actually operated, Kerry Parker operated the facility for a period around 1968-1969. IN an interview in 2001, he explained how the building operated. There’s more to this story, which we’ll tell another time, but this gives a basic operation of the water plant at Boxwell…

The Horseshoe down there is an old quarry of some kind. That’s why the walls are like they are… And they’ve got that metal deck, if it’s still down there, with the two pumps on it that stand out over the water. And those are the intake pumps from the lake. Those pumps pumped [water] up through a long trough that had weirs in it, things that make the water go up and down, and you’d add alum at the beginning of that trough and it mixes it up, going up and down in operation, under the weir and over the weir and under the weir and over the weir. And that thing was probably about ten feet deep and about three feet wide.

Then [the water] would come out of the wears into a tank that used to be on the dining hall side of the pump house. [T]hat was a settling tank. Now, in the settling tank, the water slows down. And since it’s been mixing with the alum, and the alum makes the dirt in the water coagulate into kind of a clear coagulation, and it’s heavy. And it will settle to the bottom.

Off the top of the settling tank, going into the plant, into the inside of the Pump house on the second floor, it goes into a sand filter. It goes in and washes over the sides and falls onto a sand filter. Goes down through a sand filter and then goes down into a big tank. That’s still there the last time I was out there, below the plant into what’s called a spring tank. Now that’s water that’s ready to drink, is a spring tank. And on top of the spring tank there’s two more pumps and those pumps pump the water up the line to the tank at the top of the hill. And there’s a set of sensors in those tanks that when the pressure gets a certain point, when the [water tower] tank gets full at the top of the hill, it’ll shut those pumps down.

Pump House Museum
The Pump House as the Centennial Scout Museum, hours before its dedication on Friday, September 24, 2021.

On This Day, September 24

On this day–Saturday, September 24, 1960–Leslie G. Boxwell passed away. Boxwell had been suffering from an undisclosed illness for 10 years by this point. His wife, Jeanette Stacey, had passed away in May 1947, so Boxwell had been a widower for some time by this point. They had been married since 1911. L. G. “Box” Boxwell left quite a legacy. A native of Clearcreek, Ohio, he moved to Nashville in 1906 and quickly became associated with several automobile and road interests. He eventually became the General Manager of the Tennessee Metal Culvert Company and established another similar company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a road building activist in early 20th century Tennessee as a member of the Tennessee Good Roads Association. He was very active in a variety of other associations in the mid-state as well, including the Rotary Club. Through his work with the Rotary, Boxwell helped form the Nashville Council in 1920 and he agreed to served as the Camping Committee chair after William Anderson was named Council Executive. It was through his work with the Camping Committee, he established the first summer camp at Linton in 1921. The Council named the location “Camp L. G. Boxwell” in recognition of his work. He often visited the camp with his wife and was instrumental in providing transportation for Scouts out to camp all summer. Upon the sudden death of Edgar Foster in 1925, he became the Council President. He served in this position until 1947. In those years, he continued his work with Camp Boxwell, helping to secure the Narrows of the Harpeth location in 1930. He took out a personal loan to keep the camp afloat in the darkest days of the Depression, but was able to bounce back with contracts from the TVA when the New Deal kicked in. By all evidence, Boxwell and Anderson were good friends and when Boxwell retired at the start of 1947 (after the death of his wife the year before), Anderson followed not long after. Boxwell remained somewhat active with the Council, helping to secure Ward Akers as Executive as well as (by some accounts) secure the Rock Island property for the third Boxwell. It is believed that his last Scouting public appearance was the kick-off meeting for the 1959 Capital Campaign that built Old Hickory Boxwell. He did not attend the dedications for this fourth camp in July 1960.

Services were held for Leslie G. Boxwell on Tuesday, September 27 at Martin’s 209 Louise Ave. He was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Honorary Pallbearers included Ward Akers, William J. Anderson, Ennis E. Murrey and James G. Stahlman. He was 79 years old.

Leslie G Boxwell
Leslie G. Boxwell’s Council President Portrait from the Council Office

On This Day, September 22

On this day–Sunday, September 22, 2013–Tom Willhite, Reservation Director from 1976 to 1994, passed away at his home in Morrison, TN. Willhite had joined the ranks of the Middle Tennessee professionals in March 1964. He was already a bit older than most, starting this new career at 34 years of age, but he established himself quickly. He served as Parnell’s Camp Director in 1967 and was promoted to Field Director that same year. He helped with 1972 Capital Development Campaign and even helped with the electrical wiring in the new Craig Dining Hall. With the departure of Ed Human at the start of 1976, Willhite became the new Director of Camping (eventually Director of Support Services). He began under a rough financial situation following Ward Akers’ resignation and the economy calamity that was the 1970s. He even faced a staff walkout his first summer (it was really only a few people). Willhite went on to serve for 18 years, the longest run of any Reservation Director. He saw Stahlman closed one summer (1979), a visit from Scouting legend Green Bar Bill (1986), and the introduction of C.O.P.E. (1985). Willhite retired as Reservation Director in 1994 but stayed on as a consultant in 1995 to oversee the construction of CubWorld. After complete retirement, he continued to come to Boxwell as a Scoutmaster of a troop. He passed away from a heart attack while getting ready for church at home. Several Boxwell staff friends had visited him the night before. Services were held at the Murfreesboro Funeral Home with burial at Fountain Grove Cemetery in Morrison, TN on September 25th. Willhite was 83 years old.

Tom Willhite
Remembering Tom Willhite (standing), Director of Support Services, Reservation Director, 1976-1994. Photo by Michael Seay

From the Archives, September 19, 2021

Washstand 1

If you’ve ever wondered why those seemingly random slabs on concrete on Camp Craig’s Upper and Lowers Loops were for, you’re in luck. We have an answer for you!

The concrete slabs are the old foundations for a washstand. Both loops had a washstand and these were the toilet facilies before more proper showerhouses were built on the loops in the mid-1980s. The washstands were quite small–a small trough up front about four feet in length and two pit toilets inside.

Every morning after breakfast, as part of showerhouse duty, troops had to pour lye into pits to help keep the smell down. At least once a summer, a septic tank pump truck came to camp and pumped out the pit. For about 10 years, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, these were the only toilet facilties on the loops. The washstands were finally torn down after new showerhouses were built in Craig in 2002.

The photo here is the washstand on the Lower Loop. The trail to the left would run straight through the woods to the dining hall. As an additional fun fact, this is one of the very first completely digital photos in archives, taken by a Canon Elph back in 2001.

Washstand 1
The washstand on Camp Craig’s Lower Loop, July 2001

On This Day, September 15

On this day–Sunday, September 15, 1996–Ron Turpin officially began his new job as Director of Support Services with the Middle Tennessee Council. Turpin came to Middle Tennessee after serving as a Council Executive in the Eastern Area Arkansas Council and in the Great Smoky Mountains Council before that. Turpin brought a host of new programs to Boxwell. The Ten Day Out meeting, assigned check-in times, Camp Kick-Off meetings, registration for merit badge sessions, and split shift meals in the dining hall all came from Turpin’s first summer. Over the following years, new showerhouses, a new waste water treatment plant at Craig, the High Adventure Area at Camp Light including the Parish High Adventure Building and the Pool, not to mention the Staff Centers and the group staff sites (with electricity!) all came about because of Turpin’s leadership. Those years also saw new sites built in Camp Craig, the Trading Posts converted to walk-around shops, and improvements to both the Davy Crockett (now Green Bar) program and the CubWorld program.  He became Director of Field Services in 2002 and in 2007 Assistant Scout Executive. He became heavily involved in the development of the Latimer High Adventure Base. He retired in August of this year after 43 years in Scouting.

Ron Turpin
Ron Turpin, Assistant Scout Executive. Photo taken after interview for VirtualBoxwell, August 5, 2015.