The distinctive A-frame construction of the Nature Center dates to circa 1969, when it was built for a privately owned cabin rental complex, known as the High Meadow, which was briefly located on the current site of the Shawnee Park Lodge.
The High Meadow A-Frames cost $75 a week to rent, and included a canoe, which was tied up on the shore of the then new Turkey Creek Lake. After the State of Ohio purchased the location, the cabin was relocated next to the Turkey Creek Lake Spillway and converted into a Nature Center.
In 2007, Shawnee State Park relocated and restored a log cabin, which had been originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The cabin had been built as part of CCC Camp Shawnee No. 1. and was located near Pond Lick Lake in the Shawnee State Forest.
CCC work within the forest included the removal of deadened American Chestnut, which had succumbed to an Asian blight in the 1920s. Using this salvaged timber, the CCC built a number of log structures, such as this cabin, which is a perfect example of what scholars have called CCC "parkitecture," the distinctive rustic construction style used in CCC park improvements across the nation.
Today, it serves as an interpretive center on the history of the park and forest. Visitors can learn how the Shawnee once called these hills home, when the game was thick and Europeans were few and far between. Following American settlement, which led to deforestation and the extirpation of buffalo, deer, and black bear, a Conservation Movement would give birth to Ohio's Roosevelt Game Preserve and Shawnee State Forest in the 1920s. And, from these beginnings, with the help of Franklin D. Roosevelt's CCC, would develop what is today Shawnee State Park.
Today the Nature Center and CCC Cabin Museum are popular attractions with area residents and visitors from throughout the tri-state region of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Here, park visitors can learn about native and invasive plant and animal species, which are found within the park and larger Shawnee State Forest. The Center and the Park Naturalist, along with numerous volunteers, carry on the tradition of free educational nature programing, which dates back to the Park’s origins in the Roosevelt Game Preserve, which kept a “zoo” of forest animals in the 1920s and 30s.