Saturday, September 27, 2014

President Hoover's Retreat

Front Royal, Virginia High 77 Low 52

Today started out foggy but as soon as the fog burned off it was sunny and bright.

We had reserved a Ranger tour of Rapidan Camp, President Herbert Hoover’s retreat away from Washington DC. It is only a short way from the Visitors Center on the Skyline Drive.

He purchased the land and all the materials to build the Camp and the Marines did the construction. It was originally known as Camp Hoover.
After his Presidency, he donated the Camp to the National Park for the use of future Presidents. FDR only stayed there once and said he couldn't use it because of his wheel chair. The Ranger also told us that FDR hated Hoover, and he made his own retreat, which is now known as Camp David. The only other President to stay there was Jimmy Carter.

He told us that the Hoovers were millionaires long before he had any political desires. He was more or less drafted to run for president in 1928 and won by a large majority. He was sworn in in March of 1929 and the Stock Market crashed in October, which many blamed on President Hoover.

The Camp originally was 13 building, of which only 3 remain. Hoover named the main building the Brown House because that’s where he stayed when not in the White House and it was brown in color.

Mrs. Hoover didn't want anything disturbed that could be left and we could see where the house and decks had been built around trees. One was a 250 year old Oak that had to be taken down when it started to lean and threatened the Brown House. From the picture, you can see where the tree used to be.

This is part of the old road leading to the Retreat.

Outdoor fireplace near garden.

This was a working gravity fed fountain in Mrs. Hoover's garden.

One of the buildings that remain has been converted into a Museum. The third building is used as sleeping quarters by the volunteers that give tours of the Camp.

The Ranger told us that Mrs. Hoover had garden with paths which were lined by rocks. The Marines painted the rocks white and when she saw them, she told the Marines that she would have liked the rocks to be natural color. Within a week all the painted rocks were gone and had been replaced by natural stones.
When we compare FDR’s “cottage” on Campobello Island with the Brown House, The Brown House is like camping out, while the Home on Campobello Island is a 2 story mansion.

One of the signs in the Museum talks of President Hoover’s love for fishing. His personal Physician tells how sometimes he put his rubber boots on and went fishing without changing out of his suit.

President Hoover fished from a bridge at this location. The actual bridge was washed away by flash floods. This one is only 10 years old.
We learned a lot about President Hoover from the tour and think it was well worth while.

Back at the Visitors Center there is a bronze statue dedicated to the CCC “boys” that worked on the Park and other public service projects in the 1930s.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Sounds like you guys are having some great times. And the leaves are starting to change so it should be really pretty in a few weeks.

  2. Thanks for the tour. This is going on our President's to do list.