How you get there: Head out Yeomalt way by any number of routes – east through Wing Point from downtown Winslow, along the High School-to-Aaron-to-Cherry corridor, or via Grand Avenue from points north. It’s mostly flat going by bicycle save for the “Wing Point dip” off Ferncliff. Park Avenue is bounded by Wing Point Way at one end and curves into Grand at the other, and Camp Yeomalt is tucked into the woods just north of Dingley Road.
Why you should go: Three things you won’t find at Camp Yeomalt: Sweeping views. Rugged, lose-yourself trails through a hundred-acre wood. A beach. The grand natural features that define many Bainbridge parks are in short supply at this modest 3-acre tract. What you will find is history: a New Deal-era log cabin, one of the island’s heritage buildings and a great setting for your next reception, club function or family reunion. Because there’s so much more to our parks than, you know, land.
A gem of rustic, Works Progress Administration construction and a national historic site, the 1935 cabin was base camp for generations of island Boy Scouts. This was back when the former Camp Hopkins really was off the beaten track, and an overnighter there must have seemed an adventure indeed. A hand-stamped plaque on the chimney honors the early scouts, bearing names that live on in island lore: Nakata, Knechtel, Moritani. During the war, the camp even bivouacked a Coast Artillery Corps garrison. The Park District acquired the property in the 1980s, by which point Time was taking its creeping toll on the cabin’s logs, and the towering, native-stone chimney leaned like Pisa.
In the mid-2000s the late Dave Ullin (an island legend in his own right) and a cadre of community volunteers used old-school hand tools to peel newly harvested logs. The cabin was raised, and its lower third and gabled roof rebuilt atop a new foundation. The two-year restoration is itself an epic tale, and you can find an excellent video documentary through the Park District’s website. We can’t build “historic,” we can only preserve it, and at Camp Yeomalt, islanders did.
As a Saturday destination, Camp Yeomalt makes for a great picnic spot and you can certainly appreciate the cabin’s magnificence from the outside. (Although the windows are readily peek-in-able.) Several fire rings on the grounds are just right for hot dogs and s’mores, while a short wooded loop and generous lawn will give the kiddies a good romp.
Think of those national parks you’ve visited in your life and their rustic visitor centers, lodges and shelters – legacies of the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps, harmonious with the land and some of our most treasured sites. The Camp Yeomalt cabin is an exemplar of period and form. It remains a star in our constellation of heritage halls with Island Center, Seabold, the (private but rentable) Filipino-American, and soon Fort Ward. Experience them all.
Visit Camp Yeomalt, post a photo or two in the comments below or on Instagram tagged #12in12biparks to win a prize, and get set for next week’s Bainbridge park adventure.