The federal funds that helped pull the country out of the Great Depression came to a halt when America entered World War II. Several of Oglebay’s key staff members joined the armed forces and, while activities did not stop, management was left in the hands of part-time employees. Because of gas rationing, many area residents “discovered” Oglebay during the war years.
By 1945, Oglebay leaders faced a whole new set of problems; first and foremost, determining a way to come up with the funds needed to meet post-war demands caused by the thousands of service personnel returning to their Ohio Valley homes. After much study and advice, a unique instrument was created — the Parks System Trust Fund — to be used as a repository for contributions and bequests for necessary improvements and facility development. When the fund was incorporated in December, 1945, it thrust Oglebay and Wheeling Park into the forefront of progressive municipal recreation areas throughout the country.
Over the next decade, a number of facilities were developed through gifts from individuals and families to the trust fund; in the late 1940s, Har-tru tennis courts, riding stables, and the first winterized cottage; in the 1950s, more cottages, picnic shelters, a horse show ring, golf driving range, a tennis shelter, three-acre lake, a nature center, and the long-awaited Wilson Lodge. When the lodge opened in 1957 it marked a turning point, for overnight, Oglebay shook its provincial image to become a comprehensive, year-round resort.
Oglebay’s rich tennis tradition started when several clay courts were built in the Crispin Center area in 1939, close to the original riding stables. Don Budge, who became one of the finest professional players of his day, appeared in an exhibition match shortly after. In the late 1940s, the courts at the expanded complex were converted to a Har-Tru surface. Tennis legend Arthur Ashe played in one of his first major tournaments at Oglebay – a juniors event – in 1961.
Oglebay’s picturesque Par-3 course and clubhouse were constructed adjacent to the driving range in 1962. It was the park’s first season-spanning sports center. With the installation of snow-making equipment and a Pomalift in 1963, a skiing area was created for visitors and local residents. Skiing flourished for several decades until it was discontinued in 1997 because of milder winters and aging equipment. By the winter of 2005, however, a local committee raised enough money to purchase a state-of-the-art snowmaking system and triple chair lift in order to re-open the slopes.