The family behind Restoration Ark.
When we saw a campground for sale with such a low price, we couldn't resist the opportunity to visit. We took a tour of the campus and fell in love with the grounds and the potential. Initially, we hoped to use this place to hide from the world as much as possible, of course now we laugh as we think about God's completely opposite plans for us. There was so much more ahead.
The location, now known as Restoration Ark has a long history in this area. It was purchased by various families, then donated to the Bledsoe Baptist Association. They eventually transferred ownership to Salem Baptist Association. This is where the story takes a unique turn.
Down the road, in Carthage, TN in the 1950's was a family who owned and operated a farm. They were actively involved in their church. Their son, Norris, who was born in 1936, joined the Airforce and became a pilot during the Vietnam War. He was transferred to various states, eventually settling in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife and young daughter. He served in wartime and successfully piloted a vessel delivering and picking up soldiers during the
war despite enemy fire.
On Christmas Day, when he was 27 years old, he decided to travel to Tennessee to see his family for the holidays. The trip ended soon after it began. A vehicle, being chased by the Anchorage Police, crossed the middle line, hitting his family head on. Captain Thomas was killed instantly. His wife was critically injured, and their young 4 year old daughter had minor injuries. His parents were devastated with his loss.
Back in Tennessee, the Thomas' church, as well as the local association (Salem Baptist Association) were in the process of building a campground for ministering to others. Various churches each sponsored a cabin to be built. Captain Thomas' family also built a cabin in honor of Norris, and the association further honored him, by naming the camp, "Camp Nor-Da-Tho." His mother traveled to the Westmoreland Campground with her grand-daughter often, where she served in the kitchen. Captain Thomas' daughter grew up with a wonderful step father, and leads a very happy and full life with her family, serving in ministry as her grandmother did many years before.
As time moved on, the camp was sold to various owners, and for many years it belonged to Mission Discovery. Countless families and their children have precious memories attending church camps here. Restoration Ark seeks to preserve those cherished moments by updating the buildings and re-opening the doors to families, churches, organizations, businesses and other small groups for weddings, gatherings, reunions, and retreats.
This will be a place where people can relax, disconnect from the internet,
and reconnect with each other in a charming woodland haven.