Located in Overton County on the Cumberland Plateau, Standing Stone State Rustic Park was acquired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Land-Use Area program of the 1930s. The program allowed submarginal property to be obtained from the federal government for the establishment of parks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture acquired the property through its soil and conservation resettlement programs. Lands could then be developed for erosion control, reforestation, or recreation. The Federal Resettlement Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Projects (later Progress) Administration (WPA) worked with states to find alternate uses for the land. Standing Stone became one of four Land-Use Areas that developed into Tennessee state parks; Chickasaw, Cedars of Lebanon, and Natchez Trace State Parks were the others.
At Standing Stone, the Resettlement Administration and the U.S. Forestry Service relocated farmers, reforested the land, and implemented erosion control measures to prepare the area for further development. Federal agencies promoted the development of state parks within a day’s drive from population centers. Standing Stone’s location in a triangular area surrounded by highways with easy access to the county seats of Clay, Overton, and Jackson Counties fit the criterion. The park’s name ostensibly came from a “standing stone” that had been significant in Native American culture and that was thought to be on park land. The stone was later found in adjacent Putnam County.
Development of the park by the WPA centered on a sixty-acre, man-made lake. In 1938 state plans called for a $53,213 expenditure to construct recreational facilities, including cabins, an amphitheater, a boathouse, a recreation hall, picnic shelters, a pump house, the park entrance sign, a group camp, and trails and roads. On March 23, 1939, Standing Stone was transferred to the Division of State Parks in the Department of Conservation, but the State of Tennessee did not receive full title to the property until 1955.
The park and forest consist of about ten thousand acres of land. Historic structures built between 1938 and 1942 include one-story buildings of hewn logs or board siding resting on stone foundations; numerous low stone guard rails along the roads; cabins and group camps; picnic shelters; an amphitheater; and a recreational hall. The most impressive feature of the park is the sixty-nine-acre lake with its three-hundred-foot rock-faced, coursed stone and concrete dam. The lake was intended to be used for boating and fishing, but swimming was also permitted until the construction of a pool.
Work in the park ceased during World War II, but renovations resumed in 1946 with the draining and restocking of the lake. The following year, a group camp and ranger residences were erected. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation now administers Standing Stone State Rustic Park.