By DOTTY NIST
It is now easier than ever for visitors to Camp Helen State Park to learn all about the property’s interesting history, due to the installation of new solar-powered signs in front of a number of buildings in the park’s historic area.
The sign displays incorporate old photographs, and by pressing a button, visitors are treated to an audio historical narrative on topics related to the park’s buildings and the property in general.
Camp Helen’s history of habitation dates back approximately 4,000 years with native American settlements.The southwestern Bay County park is bordered by Lake Powell, Phillips Inlet, and the Gulf of Mexico and straddles U.S. 98. Most of the buildings at the park, among them the lodge and the historic guest cottages, were constructed by a local family, the Hicks, who owned the property from 1928 to 1945 and called it Loch Lomond.
From 1945 to 1987, Camp Helen was operated as an employee vacation retreat by then-owner Avondale Mills, an Alabama textile company. The state of Florida acquired the property in 1997, and it became Camp Helen State Park.
Along with the park’s historic area, visitors have the opportunity to explore a variety of natural communities and trails and enjoy its pristine gulf front.
Located just west of the Phillips Inlet bridge, Camp Helen is open to the public from 8 a.m. to sundown 365 days a year. Information is available by calling (850) 233-5059.