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History of Maurice K. Goddard State Park

Sandy Creek, which traverses the park, was first noted in reports made by George Washington during his trip to Fort LeBoeuf in 1753.

The creek's history of flooding prompted the initial flood control study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1939. The U.S. Soil Conservation Service subsequently became committed to building a dam for flood control and conservation purposes.

The recreational potential of the project became so apparent during the initial planning phase that state, county, township, and municipal authorities were drawn into an outstanding cooperative effort to construct the park and game lands. The land was acquired for the project during the late 1960s. The dam was completed in 1971, and recreational facilities were dedicated in 1972.

Lake Wilhelm is named in honor of Lawrence J. Wilhelm. As the Mercer County Commissioner and a Soil and Water Conservation District Director for Mercer County, Mr. Wilhelm provided leadership in the development of the park from its beginnings in 1959, to the time of his death in October of 1968.

Maurice K. Goddard

After receiving an MS Degree in forestry from the University of California at Berkley, Maurice K. Goddard served in the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945 and was awarded the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, and earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

After serving as the director of the Mont Alto Forestry School, Goddard went on to head the Pennsylvania State University Forestry School. During 1955, Goddard was appointed Secretary of the Bureau of Forests and Waters.

Goddard took the position and set a goal of a state park within 25 miles of every resident of Pennsylvania. "We took a big map of Pennsylvania and drew circles around Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the Wyoming Valley, and Harrisburg," he said. Goddard quickly set to work to improve the professionalism of the department by eliminating the political appointments and increasing the number of college educated employees.

During 1959, Maurice K. Goddard received an honorary doctorate of science from Waynesburg College and was thereafter called "Doc Goddard."

During 1971, the Department of Forests and Waters was combined with several other state departments to create the Department of Environmental Resources. Although opposed to the combined department, Dr. Goddard was secretary of the department.

When Dr. Goddard retired in 1979, after an unprecedented 24 years as a cabinet officer to six governors, he had added 45 state parks and an additional 130,000 acres of state park land.

He raised Pennsylvania’s parks and forestry departments to national leaders, while not losing sight of the people and programs. Dr. Goddard received many awards in his career, including the prestigious National Wildlife Federation Special Achievement Award for his 50 years as an outspoken defender of natural resources. And despite his objections, the Sandy Creek State Park project was officially named Maurice K. Goddard State Park in 1969.

John C. Oliver III

The legacy of John C. Oliver III’s service to conservation and the community is etched deeply into the story of Pennsylvania state parks.

Oliver served as the first Secretary of DCNR from 1995-2002. During his tenure, the agency established its guiding principles of stewardship, partnership, and service, which continue to be the foundation of DCNR’s work.

Oliver was instrumental in getting the 12.2-mile paved loop trail funded and built during 2003. During 2015, the trail was officially named the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail.