One Family’s Love Affair with Watoga, the Swimming Pool and Cabin 20

Watoga Sate Park. Nestled in the background is Cabin 20. | 📸: @john.c.dean
Side view of the swimming pool at Watoga Sate Park. Nestled in the background is Cabin 20. | 📸: @john.c.dean


Seventy-Two Years at Watoga

Four generations of the Bott family have stayed at Cabin 20, nestled in the pines next to the swimming pool at Watoga State Park.

For 72 years, the Botts have fished, swam, hiked, and along the way have made countless memories at the state’s largest recreation area. Specifically, from 1957-1967, these kinfolks called this particular cabin their home away from home.

And this is David Bott’s story about the swimming pool, the cabin next door and the park.

Discovering Watoga, Cabin 20 and the Pool

“My parents began traveling to Pocahontas County in 1948, staying at Graham’s Motel in Buckeye, fishing the Greenbrier River. Discovering Watoga, they soon began staying in the cabins. I began my love affair with Watoga at two-years-old.

“We stayed at Cabin 20 for at least ten years when my sisters [Barbara and Jane] were young. Before they were born, we generally stayed in the Pine Run area. Later we stayed in Cabin 1 and 2 down by the Greenbrier River. After I got married and had children, we stayed in Cabin 3 until it burned down.

“When Barbara and Jane were young, it was a logical choice for kids with a lot of energy and a need for activities. Mom liked the convenience of everything plus it allowed us to be entertained most of the time.

David Bott in flight from the diving board at the swimming pool, circa 1968. | 📸: Leonard Bott
David Bott in flight from the diving board at the swimming pool, circa 1968. | 📸: Leonard Bott

“Swimming during the day, exploring Island Lick Creek in the evenings, and catching crawdads to fish the lake. My parents almost always stayed the last week of August because they wanted to give us one last summer hurrah before school started.”

The Majesty of Cabin 20

“I think the layout was one of the features my mother enjoyed the most. The front door was almost center of the cabin. Walk into the living room/dining area. On either side of the fireplace were single beds. Mom and dad slept here. It was a magnificent fireplace. To the right was a hallway, first on the left, the kitchen, across the way, a bedroom. Down the hall on the right the other bedroom and bathroom across the hall. Backdoor to the woodshed and the little back porch was the raccoon dining area.”

Swimming Pool Humor

“I was in grade school; Barbara was in preschool and Jane was a toddler. My mother would require us to take a break from swimming in the afternoon. Barbara had to nap, but I got to run around. Instead, I jumped the fence and went back to the pool. Well, my mother went to the front desk and spoke with the lifeguards. They promptly came out and made me get out of the pool. They made a big show of it and banned me from swimming the rest of the day. Of course, all of this was contrived by my mother.”

David Bott's daughters, Rachelle (Bott) Beckner and Sara Bott peer between the pine trees at Cabin 20 near the swimming pool. | 📸: Leonard Bott
David Bott’s daughters, Rachelle (Bott) Beckner and Sara Bott peer between the pine trees at Cabin 20 near the swimming pool, circa 1985. | 📸: Leonard Bott

Still Making Cabin 20 Memories Decades Later

“One of my favorite memories is a more recent one. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters stayed with us at Cabin 20 in 2007, the year of the extreme drought. We saw black bears venturing into the park. I spent a lot of time enjoying my granddaughters, helping them learn how to swim, teaching them how to dive. They had to do numerous trivial things for me that week because they lost a bet that I could not swim the length of the pool underwater.”

More to Come

In the next installment, Jane Bott, David’s sister, tells us about her days at the swimming pool, Cabin 20 and Watoga. Stay tuned.

What are your memories of the pool and Cabin 20? Please e-mail those to John at jcamerondean@gmail.com.

For more information on Cabin 20 or any other cabins at Watoga available for reservations, please click here.