Ridenour Memorial Park
Ridenour Memorial Park is located in Nitro, West Virginia in Kanawha County. With 43 acres, the park offers picnic facilities, a dog park, and hiking trails surrounding a 27 acre lake. Ample yearlong fishing opportunities are available at Ridenour lake from 9 a.m until dark, as the lake is stocked with trout in January and March. The gazebo on the bank of the lake adds a popular wedding venue with scenic views of rolling hills throughout the four seasons
Backstory and Context
The “Blakes Creek-Armour Creek Watershed Project” was originated in by W.W. Alexander, mayor of Nitro, West Virginia, after a flash flood caused thousands of dollars of destruction to homes on Nitro’s 21st Street in 1961. Alexander instructed and paid the Disastrous Flash Flood Soil Conservation to investigate the Armour Creek Watershed area. The study determined that there was a possibility of flooding in the city of Nitro and surrounding areas, where the lake stands today. With the potential of a flooding problem, Mayor Alexander created an appointed committee to further study the area, which confirmed the soil conservation services data. The committee ruled that immediate action needed to be taken in order to control flash floods in the area, the flood control project began.
In 1962, the soil conservation service commission approved the city of Nitro’s application for assistance, but it would not be until March of 1966 before Congress would approve the project. The expected cost was $431,000; however, problems resulted with roads surrounding the lake. Blakes Creek Road needed to be raised to comply with the 25-year flood frequency. With this came, additional constructional cost and the committee had to work to acquire funds from the Developmental Authority, the soil conservation, Kanawha County Court and other donations from chemical companies in order for the project to complete the construction. The total cost for the project was $529,488.90.
Many problems held up the
construction of the lake. Funding, road and land issues, and land rights were
key issues that postponed the completion of the project. Many wondered if the project
would ever be completed, as the setbacks continued to occur in the construction
phase. The Charleston Daily Mail termed
the project as “Nitro’s folly” and wrote about it as a “white elephant” on July
19, 1971. Finally, in 1973, the project
was completed and was renamed after chairman of the Watershed Commission, M.V. “Jack
Ridenour, who died in 1966, while the project was at its beginning stages.
Although the Ridenour Lake was completed, there was still a question of who
owned the property, as both the Kanawha County Court and the city of Nitro were
both listed on the deed. On May 8, 1974, the deed was issued to the city of
Today, Ridenour Lake offers ample recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Picnic facilities with accessibility to drinking water and restrooms are available. Four shelters can be reserved for events. Playground equipment is located near the shelters. In addition, the gazebo located along the bank of the lake adds an additional amenity and has become a popular site for weddings and photographs. Fishing is available throughout the year from 9:00 a.m. until dark with trout stocking occurring in January and March. The dog park is a new addition to the lake. Hiking and biking trails surround Ridenour Lake with the hope to add additional trails in the near future. Ridenour Lake offers something for everyone, and the city of Nitro works to maintain and enhance the facilities and recreation of the area with events during the holidays, such The Festival of Freight at Halloween.
Hively, Rich. Ridenour Lake, historyofnitro.com/recreation/ridenour/ridenour.html.
Regling, Mara. Nitro council approves plan to expand parking at Ridenour Lake. Charleston Gazette Mail. April 03, 2018. Accessed April 29, 2018. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/kanawha_county/nitro-council-approves-plan-to-expand-parking-at-r....
Ridenour Lake. City of Nitro. . . http://historyofnitro.com/recreation/ridenour/ridenour.html.
Hively, Rich. Ridenour Timeline. City of Nitro. . . http://historyofnitro.com/recreation/ridenour/construction/Ridenour-timeline.pdf.
Calwell, Ben. Volunteers establishing new biking, hiking trail at Ridenour Lake in Nitro. Kanawha. April 04, 2018. . https://www.wvgazettemail.com/metrokanawha/volunteers-establishing-new-biking-hiking-trail-at-ridenour-lake-in/article_b8d2947a-2c64-55a5-a510-3f8d37d4531a.html.