- Sharon Woods opened in 1932 as Hamilton
County Park District's first park.
- Picnicking became very popular, and in 1933
a picnic pavilion was constructed. It is the oldest
structure still standing on Hamilton County
Park District grounds (located near Sharon
- During the Great Depression, nearly 500
Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers
worked in Sharon Woods
- What is now Lakeside Lodge, was the original
boathouse built in 1936 by WPA workers.
- In 1937, members of the 134th US Army Infantry
used the park to practice military drills.
- By the late 1930s, a network of trails and
bridges was created, and the first trail map
was released to the public.
- Sharon Woods Golf Course opened May 28,
1938 with golf legend Bobby Jones hitting the
first ceremonial tee shot.
- Archery became so popular in the 1940s that
the Cincinnati Archery Association operated
an archery range at Sharon Woods.
- Guided camera walks and photography contests
were offered in the 1940s.
- In 1953, the ranger station (now the Employee
Training Center) became the Nippert
- For several decades the rangers maintained a
deer pen for people to visit.
- In the mid-1950s,
Sharon Woods started
hosting an annual
- Year-round fishing
was offered at Sharon
Woods and attracted
more than 6,200
visitors in 1960.
- Art in the Park was offered at Sharon Woods
in 1967 for aspiring landscape painters.
- Sharon Woods Village (now Heritage Village
Museum operated by Historic Soutwest Ohio) opened in 1971.
- The hike/bike trail around Sharon Lake was
completed in 1976.
- The Stonewood Lodge at Sharon Woods Golf
Course was built in 1984.
- Parcours Trail was opened in 1986.
- Efforts to restore Sharon Lake began in 1986, after a severe buildup of silt threatened water quality and wildlife habitat. The lake was drained and dredged thanks to the help of government funding. Restoration was complete in 1989.
- Sharon Woods Golf Course celebrated its
- 50th Anniversary in 1988.
- Gorge Trail was completed in 1989.
- Sharon Woods Harbor area and boathouse was renovated and opened in 1990.
- First Holiday in Lights event was held in 1992.
- Sharon Centre opened in 1999.
- The old ranger station/Nippert Nature Center building became the Employee Training Center in 2000.
- The arched bridge (built by WPA workers in 1930s) was severely damaged by a flood in 2001 and parts had to be rebuilt.
- Wet and dry playgrounds at the Harbor were updated in 2007.
- Sharon Woods Golf Course celebrated its 70th
Anniversary in May 2008.
The WPA and Sharon Woods
During the Great Depression, several agencies
were created to provide jobs for skilled and
unskilled workers. These agencies were part of
President Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal." The
Works Progress Administration (WPA) was the
largest of these agencies, providing millions of
Americans with jobs, resulting in the construction
of public buildings and roads, among other things
When Sharon Woods opened in 1932, FERA
(Federal Emergency Relief Administration) and
WPA work started almost immediately. The work
not only created nearly 500 jobs, it improved the
park's infrastructure and gave residents a place
to escape the worries of everyday life.
FERA workers started by dredging silt and gravel
from the former Buckeye Pool and beginning
construction on the Stone Arch Bridge to provide
better access to the park.
By 1935 the WPA took over the building of roads
and stone bridges, including the Gorge Bridge,
(which is no longer there) and East Finger Bridge,
a footbridge over Sharon Woods Gorge.
In 1936, the WPA began construction on the
Sharon Woods Dam. It was named the L. Alvin
Kreis Memorial Dam, after one of the park's first
commissioners, and was completed in 1937.
Damming Sharon Creek created the 30-acre
Sharon Lake. During the same period, the Lakeside
Lodge, on the eastern side of the lake, was built
as the original boathouse.
Construction of Sharon Woods Golf Course also
began in 1936. Designed by Bill Diddle, it was
one of the first public courses built to professional
standards. WPA crews did most of the groundwork,
dredging topsoil from the east side of the
lake for greens and laying over 18,500 feet of
pipe and over 3,100 feet of tile for drainage.
One of the greatest legacies left by the WPA workers,
at Sharon Woods and around the country, is
the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went
into the projects. Profits weren't the motivator;
workers were compelled to do quality, not fast
work. Workers took pride in what they built. A
few are even buried in an old pioneer cemetery
in Sharon Woods (near the Parcours Trail)!