by William Eric McFadden

From the Shawnee State Forest website:

In the mid-1800s and early 1900s, building stone was quarried from Vastine and Cabbage Patch hollows. The stone was moved by railroad to the Ohio River and loaded on barges. Much of the stone was used in the construction of buildings in Cincinnati.

Shawnee State Forest came into existence in 1922 with the purchase of 5,000 acres of land which had been cut over for timber and ravaged by fire. During that same year, land acquisition began for the Theodore Roosevelt Game Preserve.

In the 1930s, six Civilian Conservation Corps camps were located in the forest. During this period, many of the roads were constructed. Many other accomplishments resulted, including five small lakes that were built to serve as water supplies for the camps.

Following the creation of the Department of Natural Resources in 1949, the recreational facilities at Roosevelt Lake were transferred to the Division of Parks. The Roosevelt Game Preserve, by a 1951 agreement between the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, became a part of the forest.

From the American Rally Association website:

The state of Ohio has hosted American national championship stage rally events on 19 separate occasions, beginning with the establishment of the SCCA Pro Rally Championship in 1973 and ending in 1996.

Many of the stages that made up previous Ohio events returned to action in 2017 as the Southern Ohio Forest Rally returned to national prominence. More of the historical roads were brought back in 2018 with the addition of Tar Hollow State Park. The SOFR crew and Ohio Forestry Department worked together to add Shawnee State Forest in 2019. That same year, with the collaboration of the City of Chillicothe, SOFR was able to bring back a teaser of the infamous City Park stage in downtown Chillicothe's Yoctangee Park.



On Friday, June 9, 2023, two members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team performed a successful activation of Shawnee State Forest (K-5450) as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program.

While working as radio operators at the 2023 Southern Ohio Forest Rally (link) within Shawnee State Forest, Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, and Miles McFadden, KD8KNC, performed a quick activation of the unit after their marshal point was set up but well before the first competitors were due to pass.

Eric and Miles are assigned to serve as radio opertors and intersection-marshals. They arrived at Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park in West Portsmouth, Ohio, at 7:30am for check-in and to join the crew who would be running the "Saddle Up" super-special stage. As a caravan, the entire crew began the short drive to stage at 8:30am. In due course, and after an extremely dusty drive along the stage from the start control, Eric and Miles arrived at Marshal Point B (M-2004) at the intersection of State Forest Road 13 and State Forest Road 2.

Eric's station After verifying the installation of banner-tape and set-up of a 2m station for use on the rally's repeater frequency and a second 2m station for use on the stage's assigned simplex frequency, before a significant number of spectators had found their way to the location, and more than hour before the first competitor was start his run on the stage, Eric strapped his 31' Jackite telescoping fiberglass pole to his folding camp-chair, deployed his 28½' wire vertical on the pole, set up his Elecraft KX3 on the camp-chair's flip-up table, and was on the air at 1407 UTC.

As he had expected, Eric found he had poor cell-signal at this location and would not be able to spot himself on the POTA Spots website or to use POTA Spots to identify possible Park-to-Park (P2P) QSOs. (During the activation, Miles discovered he did have sufficient signal to access POTA Spots, so he was able to verify that Eric had been spotted.)

Eric began his operation on 20m by finding himself a frequency to run and calling "CQ POTA", and his first QSO came at 1412 UTC with W8MND in Michigan.

After several unproductive minutes calling CQ on 20m, Eric switched to 40m. His first QSO there came at 1419 UTC with K4ISN in Virginia. QSOs came quickly, with Eric's twelfth QSO in this run coming at 1431 UTC with AI4LL in Virginia. This run included QSOs with operators located in Virginia (3), Tennessee, Ohio (3), Michigan (2), Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

In all, Eric logged thirteen QSOs in about twenty-four minutes of on-air time. All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at five watts output.

Miles did not operate but helped with station set-up and tear-down and did all of the POTA activation photography. While Eric was performing his activation, Miles dealt with the "OOO", "OO", and "O" course cars as they verified the safety of the stage prior to opening the course to competitors.

Eric also submitted his log to the World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF; link) program for an activation of Shawnee State Forest, KFF-5002.

During the first running of "Saddle Up", Eric and Miles saw and logged sixty-eight competitors past their intersection. During the second running of the stage, they saw and logged sixty competitors.

Photos of the rally by Eric:

Video of the rally by Miles McFadden:

See more of Miles's videography at

And, for completeness, the after-rally wrap-up videos by DirtFish and Subaru Launch Control Rally Rundown: