Early History
Native Americans used Adams Cave as a burial cave during the Late Woodland Period (A.D. 900-1600) (Boyd and Boyd, 1997). Then the cave was mined for saltpeter during the War of 1812 (D Hubbard 1997 Personal communication to C. Boyd).

Civil War History
In the War Between the States, after the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain, Union soldiers attempted to destroy rail lines. Among other things, the railroad carried valuable salt for preserving meat from Saltville in southwest Virginia. Two bridges in Radford were burned. During the three-hour Battle of Central, Federal troops on the Fairlawn side of the New River fired at Confederate troops on the Radford side. The photo at left shows the view from the Federal side. Wildwood Park is on the slope of "Lovely Mount" in the center of the photo. "Arnheim," the home of John Radford on the western edge of Wildwood (right photo), was struck by Federal cannonballs. As seen from Wildwood, the view is largely obscured by trees today, but one can see Arnheim (right foreground) and above it across the river are a line of buildings along the bluff union troops once occupied.

Recent History
In the past, Connelly's Run was a boundary between two towns, East Radford and West Radford. A bridge once spanned the North end of the valley, but the bridge was removed and rock was quarried from the eastern slope to fill in the valley and build present day Main Street.

A swimming pool was built along Connelly's Run in 1929 and the area became the first city park. In 1930, the city held a competition for naming the park. A student from Radford's State Teachers College, Alleen Carper, won $25 with the name of Wildwood Park. In September 1999, in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the park, the City, Radford University and Pathways for Radford recognized Mrs. (Carper) Hughes with a luncheon and keys to the city. Her story was printed in The Southwest Times on July 25, 1999.

The pool, picnic area, playground and pavilion built over the original bath-house provided a community meeting place and helped unite the youth of the two parts of the city. The pool was filled each week with water from Connelly's Run and was freezing cold. To help warm the water, the Recreation Commission removed all the trees from the hill west of the pool. The Commission twice closed the pool early in the season because of polio epidemics in the area (Cord, 1954).

The Park was closed and the pool was filled in with dirt. Today, the area is covered with vegetation and all one can see of the pool is a concrete wall along Connelly's Run. Later, Bisset Park became the City's main recreational facility.

During World War II, boy scouts removed a metal bridge across Connelly's run to use the metal in the war effort. They replaced it with a wooden bridge.

After its closing, Wildwood park continued to be used for hiking with minimal city maintenance. Various gardening organizations and Radford University classes periodically restored trails, bridges and plantings. The flood plain was mowed. A sewer line was put in paralleling the creek.

In 1998, newspapers reported that the City was considering the construction of a two-lane road through the park for car and truck traffic to pass through the City. Some citizens were concerned that vehicle traffic would destroy the peaceful ambiance of the park and would make it unsafe for children and educational groups. In addition, the Park is an oasis for wildlife in the New River Valley. Eventually, under the leadership of Mary Hall, some of those people joined forces with other citizens who wanted a network of bikeways and walkways through the City. The group, Pathways for Radford, has been working with uniformly enthusiastic City officials to plan the revitalization of Wildwood Park.

Further reading:
Barr, Jack 1996 Reading the earth. RU: The Magazine of Radford University. December 1996. pp. 17-19

Boyd, C. Clifford, Jr. and Dona C. Boyd 1997 Osteological comparison of prehistoric Native Americans from Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee mortuary caves. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 59(3):160-165.

Cord, Ruth Graham 1954. Ten Years of Organized Recreation in Radford, Virginia. M. S. Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. 532 pp.

Johnson, Elmer D. (Ed.) 1975 Radford Then and Now: A Pictorial History. American Bicentennial Commission of Radford Virginia. 77pp.

MacCord, Howard A. Sr. 1982 An archeological reconnaissance survey of portions of the Pepper's Ferry wastewater treatments system in the City of Radford and counties of Montgomery and Pulaski. Report prepared for Olver, Inc., Blacksburg, VA.

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