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Rapidan Camp restored by Shenandoah National Park, showed by guides who trade lodging for tours
Cass Ray, a retired teacher from New York, has spent the summer
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By ROB HEDELT
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK--Reed
Engle, the park's cultural-resource officer and an architectural historian, was involved in all facets of the camp's restoration.
He helped oversee the restoration of the rough-hewn buildings at the camp to their condition in the early 1930s, when Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover chose the pristine, 164-acre spot at the headwaters of the Rapidan River to flee the heat of summer.
Engle also coordinated the recent creation and opening of a small, self-guided exhibit/museum on the camp grounds that tells the story of the complex Hoover had built by a company of Marines billeted there full time.
And, in perhaps the most difficult part of the restoration, he joined other park officials in a years-long search of antiques emporiums, second-hand stores and artisans' shops to find or replicate the eclectic, rough-hewn furniture used to furnish the camp buildings.
Ray isn't a park service employee, but he and a small group of others play a big part in opening Rapidan Camp to the public.
Although the park was able to use some $400,000 in entrance-fee revenues toward the restoration over the past eight years, there's no money in the park's budget to hire full-time interpreters for the camp near the juncture of Laurel Prong and Mill Prong, where the Rapidan begins.
So Ray and a handful of others have made a trade.
In return for the opportunity
The park also offers guided van trips that leave from Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows.
Ray, who recently retired as a teacher in East Aurora, N. Y., enjoys sharing information he's gleaned about the camp over the past year or two with visitors.