Centennial Update: Lodge history series: Onondaga Lodge

Onondaga Lodge Flap

By Alex Hughes

Onondaga Lodge was born out of a merger of Fort Steuben Council and National Trail Council. The two councils combined to become the Ohio River Valley Council, based in Wheeling, West Virginia. As the councils merged, so did their respective OA lodges, joining Papoukewis Lodge and Arrowhead Lodge to form Onondaga Lodge. Ever since, the lodge has served as a unifying force for youth in a large and diverse area.

This area includes the council’s primary ceremonial location, Fort Steuben Scout Reservation, and the home of council headquarters, Sandcrest Scout Reservation. Fort Steuben Scout Reservation sits on the beautiful Lake Clendening, home to Morgan’s Cave, an old hideout used by Confederate raiders during the Civil War. The lodge, with its focus on serving the council, has a special connection with these camps. Onondaga Lodge has kept up exceptional relations with both of the two camps for the last twenty-two years. Over the years they provide much of the workforce necessary to keep the camp’s top notch facilities functioning, and often see lodge officers serve on summer camp staff.

“The People of the River,” as Onondaga translates, have kept a strong tradition of preserving American Indian Culture in their council. The lodge frequently conducts American Indian weekends to help promote the study of their traditions, and to develop its own ceremony team. In addition to these weekends, Onondaga Lodge also hosts Native American powwows. At these powwows, American Indians and others perform traditional dances, and help to educate the public on their culture. These powwows are named in memory of the late Clyde Willis, who organized the event, but died tragically in a coal mining accident just before the first powwow began.

Onondaga Lodge is proud to have sent many contingents to national events such as NOAC, ArrowCorps5 at the Jefferson National Forest and SummitCorps since its founding in 1993. It is excited to be the home of many section officers and advisers over the years. Most importantly, the lodge is honored to see many of its youth go on to successful post-Scouting careers in diverse occupations. As the Order’s second century dawns, Onondaga Lodge will continue in excellence to serve the youth and camps of the Ohio River Valley Council more cheerfully than ever before.

Future runs of our lodge history series will focus on lodges that have submitted their lodge history book. Need help completing yours? Tips for completing your lodge history book are available here.

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