In 1900 there was a town, also called Audra, on the site of Audra State Park. The small town consisted of only 5 houses, 2 stores, a blacksmith shop, a gristmill and a post office. Timbering was conducted in the area, which before becoming state land mostly belonged to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the trail that visitors can currently take to Alum Cave was once a route used to haul logs. Between 1919 and 1923 the area was used as a 4-H camp, as much of the town was already abandoned. Two of the houses were converted into camp buildings, while the old mill became a classroom.
The state purchased 355 acres of the park in 1948, and started adding amenities like a parking lot and changing rooms for swimmers. For a brief period in the 1950s, visitors had to pay to use the swimming area (50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children), but the charge was unpopular with the public. More land was added to the park in the 1960s, allowing for the construction of a campground. The park was expanded again in the 1970s, and electrical hookups for campers were added.
Although the Middle Fork River is usually safe for swimmers and boaters, a flash flood in 1963 caused the river to rise more than 5 feet in a matter of minutes and necessitated a dramatic rescue of several people who were stranded on boulders in mid-stream.*
Like many of West Virginia’s parks, Audra is a big contributor to the local economy, with an economic significance of $3,502,388 in 2015.
*This story comes from the book “Where People and Nature Meet: A History of the West Virginia State Parks”