4. Rapidan Camp in Northern Virginia is also known as Camp Hoover, in honor of its builder
Herbert Hoover wanted a retreat near Washington to which he could escape the pressures of his office, and he used his own money to purchase the land and erect the presidential retreat at Camp Rapidan near Syria, Virginia, in 1929. A former mine engineer who had often lived in western mining camps, Hoover appreciated both the isolation of a camp environment and the opportunity to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes, fishing. The site selected, where the Mill Prong and the Laurel Prong join together forming the Rapidan River offered excellent trout fishing and the isolation which the new president sought, and his wife Lou did much of the design of the camp’s layout, as well as the interiors of the buildings. The Hoovers used the camp throughout his one term presidency, and entertained foreign dignitaries there.
When Franklin Roosevelt took office he found the difficulties of reaching the camp and moving within it from the confines of his wheelchair made it inconvenient. Roosevelt had another camp opened in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, which he called Shangri La and which is now known as Camp David. Rapidan Camp declined over the years, though much of it has been restored to its appearance when Hoover was president. It is still difficult to reach, vehicles aren’t allowed (including bicycles) and the wood paths are over somewhat difficult terrain. The camp is now a part of the Shenandoah National Park, and open to visitors willing to make the trek. The camp was and is so remote that during Hoover’s visits, mail and other documents required by the president or his visitors were dropped to the site from airplanes flying overhead.