Friday, October 12, 2018

Water sports at Tygart Lake

Ralph Murphy
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “sports.”

In 2007, my husband Charlie, his Dad Earl, and I visited his Aunt Jean Murphy in Bridgeport, Harrison County, West Virginia. Before we left, Aunt Jean gave Charlie 15 boxes of slides taken by her husband (and Charlie’s uncle) Ralph Murphy. There were thousands of slides in the collection, spanning the years 1947 to 1984. Many were scenic shots from their travels across the United States, some were family members, and others were friends and co-workers. I wanted to convert the slides to digital images but there were so many the task was overwhelming. I converted a few here and there and then overwhelmed, abandoned the boxes for several years. I finally bit the bullet in August 2015 and made it my yearly genealogy project during a summer “staycation.” I spent the full week converting the slides to digital. It was time-consuming but well worth the effort. Since I completed the project, I’ve spent hours looking at the photos. I’ve been able to identify many of the family members in the images, but many were friends of Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jean so remain a mystery.

Today I’m posting a group of photos related to water sports from Uncle Ralph’s slide collection. These photos provide a look into time they spent on Tygart Lake near Grafton, West Virginia. According to The Charleston Daily Mail, Tygart Lake is a 3,860-acre lake and in 1954 was the “… largest body of water in the Mountain State.” The lake “… was created by the construction of Tygart Dam.” Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jean were members of the Tygart Lake Boat Club. From the look of these photos, they appeared to have a wonderful time at the lake during the summer months with the club.


Aunt Jean talking to a member of the American Power Boat Association (APBA).

The club apparently took part in the Tygart Lake Boat Show and participated in a parade through Grafton.

These are probably from one of the annual boat races staged at the dock area. According to The Charleston Daily Mail, these “races feature competitive runs of boats ranging from sporting outboards to costly dual-motored hydroplanes.”

Jean and Ralph Murphy

If you’d like to see more photos from Uncle Ralph’s collection, click on the links below.

Nutter Fort, West Virginia Soap Box Derby

Warner’s Skyline Drive-In Theater

Vintage Christmas photos

52 Ancestors – no. 40: Anna B. Church – (week 24) (Anna (Church) and Everett Evans photos only)


  • “Tygart Park Ideal Spot for Picnic,” The Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, West Virginia, May 23, 1954.

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