Washington State Park

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For other uses, see Washington State Park System.
Washington State Park
Missouri State Park
Washington State Park overlook 36.jpg
Country United States
State Missouri
County Washington
Elevation 673 ft (205 m) [1]
Coordinates 38°05′00″N 90°41′18″W / 38.08333°N 90.68833°W / 38.08333; -90.68833Coordinates: 38°05′00″N 90°41′18″W / 38.08333°N 90.68833°W / 38.08333; -90.68833 [1]
Area 1,800 acres (728 ha)
Established 1932
Management Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Location in Missouri
Website: Washington State Park

Washington State Park is a Missouri state park in the central eastern part of the state located on Highway 21 about 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Potosi on the eastern edge of the Ozarks. The park is noted for its Native American rock carvings and for its finely crafted stonework from the 1930s.[2]

Stone carvings[edit]

The carvings, or petroglyphs, carved in dolomite rock, are believed to have been made around 1000 to 1600 C.E. and to give clues to the lives of the prehistoric Native Americans who once inhabited this part of Missouri. It is also believed that the park served as ceremonial grounds for these Middle Mississippi people who were related to the builders of the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois.

An eagle petroglyph at Washington State Park

Most of the carvings are of birds, arrows, footprints, turkey tracks, human figures, and various geometric shapes and patterns. The three petroglyph sites in the park are thought to be all that is left of a more extensive site. They make up almost 75 percent of the known petroglyphs in Missouri and contain over 350 symbols.[3]

Stone structures[edit]

The park was built during the Great Depression of the 1930s by the African-American stonemasons of the Civilian Conservation Corps known as Company 1743.[4] Their efforts left the park with the historical stone structures that still stand today: hiking shelters, picnic pavilions, and the stones that make up the 1,000 Steps Trail.[5][6]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park's nearly 1,800 acres (730 ha) allows for activities including camping, fishing, canoeing, hiking, and swimming either in the modern swimming pool or the Big River. The park receives around 300,000 visitors each year including 16,000 campers and 15,000 cabin-goers.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Washington State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Washington State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  3. ^ Drew, Nancy (March–April 1993). "Ten Miles of Ozarks History". The Ozarks Mountaineer (Kirbyville, Mo.): 58. 
  4. ^ Cunning, John (January–February 1996). "CCC Company 1743: The Thunderbirds" (PDF). Preservation Issues (Missouri Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Program) (Vol. 6, No. 1): 1, 6. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  5. ^ "Trails at Washington State Park". Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  6. ^ Drew. "op. cit". p. 59. One can only marvel at the effort it must have taken to shape the limestone blocks and then to place them on the hillside. 
  7. ^ Bailey, Bill (2006). Missouri State Parks: A Complete Outdoor Recreation Guide for Campers, Hikers, Anglers, Boaters and Nature Lovers. Glovebox Guidebooks of America. p. 182. ISBN 1-881139-29-8. 

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