Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park in southwestern Virginia is noted for its woodlands and lake. Easily accessible from Interstate 81, this park has folklore and history, swimming, camping, cabin rentals, boat rentals, hiking and the park system's first conference center, Hemlock Haven.

Hungry Mother State Park Historic District
A lake in the Park.
Location of Hungry Mother State Park
Hungry Mother State Park (the United States)
Nearest cityMarion, Virginia
Coordinates36°52′52″N 81°32′05″W
Area3,334 acres (1,349 ha)
ArchitectMyers, E.L.; et al.
Architectural styleLate 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements, Modern Movement
NRHP reference #07000303[1]
VLR #086-0015
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 12, 2007
Designated VLRJune 8, 2006[2]

Much of the land for Hungry Mother State Park was donated by local landowners to develop a new state park in Smyth County on Hungry Mother Creek. The park is one of the six original CCC parks that opened in June 1936. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

This is in an area of rare beauty. The Back of the Dragon section of Virginia State Highway 16 begins at the park and goes downhill to Tazewell, Virginia. There are several hundred sharp turns and scenic views along this 32 mile length, and is a favorite of sports car, bicycle and motorcycle enthusiasts.

The Legend of Hungry Mother

It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.[3] A legend states[4] that when the Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of the park, Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders’ base north of the park. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek. Upon finding help, the only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." When the search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly had collapsed, they found the child's mother dead. Today, that mountain is Molly's Knob (3,270 feet), and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek.


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  3. Parker, Quentin (2010). Welcome to Horneytown, North Carolina, Population: 15: An insider's guide to 201 of the world's weirdest and wildest places. Adams Media. pp. x. ISBN 9781440507397.
  4. "National Register of Historical Places - Hungry Mother State Park Historical District" (PDF). National Park Service. 2007-02-26.

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