HomeFinding AidsShenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Collection Summary 

View contents here

Title Shenandoah National Park Condemnation records
Collection Reference Code SNP
Inclusive Dates 1925-1939
Extent 16 binders
Document Creator Rockingham County Circuit Court; Rockingham County Chancery Court 
Bio/Historical Note  The federal government’s power of eminent domain has long been used in the United States to acquire property for public use. Eminent domain ''appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.” However, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Thus, whenever the United States acquires a property through eminent domain, it has a constitutional responsibility to compensate the property owner. The needs of a growing population for more and updated modes of transportation triggered many additional acquisitions in the early decades of the century, for constructing railroads or maintaining navigable waters. The 1930s brought a flurry of land acquisition cases in support of New Deal policies that aimed to resettle impoverished farmers, build large-scale irrigation projects, and establish new national parks. Condemnation was used to acquire lands for the Shenandoah, Mammoth Cave, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks (https://perma.cc/GKA4-GYKS). The Shenandoah National Park Condemnation Records relate a similar story with the creation of Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  
Archival History 

The Skyline Drive Records were taken soon after their creation to the other Virginia counties, who were also condemning land for the creation of the Shenandoah National Park, to serve as both precedent and an example for the court on the legal processes to follow. After returning from their multi-county tour, the documents remained at the Rockingham County Circuit Courthouse for the next seventy-five years, rolled up in several scrolls and bound with a cloth string.

Scope and Content  Researchers can expect to find all original court case documents including petitions, affidavits, court transcripts, and court orders, as well as additional material such as correspondences (between local authorities and government officials as well as letters from families to be moved), newspaper clippings, maps of the park, deed for each tract and financial records.
Index Terms  Skyline Drive (Va.), Skyline Drive (Va.)--History, Skyline Drive (Va.)--Maps, Condemnation of land, Mountain people -- Blue Ridge Mountains -- Social life and customs
Processing Information Processed by Tristan Nelson, 2018.
Arrangement  This collection is arranged into three separate series. The first series consists of all court records created pertaining to the eminent domain case "The State Commission on Conservation and Development of the State of Virginia v. Cassandra Lawson Atkins et al and 52, 561 acres more or less, of land in Rockingham County, VA."
Conditions Governing Access This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.
Language  English 
Additional Resources  Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection

Printable PDF version