River Road Camp

River Road Camp was located on the present-day site of River Grove picnic area in North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills. With Centerville Mills Camp in Aurora, River Road Camp was one of two YMCA camps in the rural area east of Cleveland. The camp had its origins in a program operated jointly by the Cleveland Heights Kiwanians and Cleveland Heights Board of Education in the 1920s.

Reorganized in 1934 under the guidance of the American Legion and further developed with support from the federal Works Progress Administration, River Road Camp formally opened in 1939 sought to provide respite for youth from the city. The YMCA began leasing the campground in 1942. Like Centerville Mills, River Road Camp was segregated in the 1940s and into the 1950s. Both camps were only open to Black boys for about one week per summer.

Additional information coming soon.

Postcard view of recreation handicraft building at River Road Camp, ca. 1940s | Artvue Post Card Co.

Resources

  • Morrow, Juanita. “12,982 Negro Children Will Be Idle in Cleveland This Summer As Racial Bans Exist in Camps.” Call & Post. May 19, 1945.
  • Raponi, Richard. “YMCA in the Cleveland Metroparks.” Cleveland Historical. https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/699.
River Road, Willoughby Hills, OH

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