A fragile wilderness could be found in Merchants Millpond State Park, on the southern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. Despite its fragility, it had an important place and long history in the area. During the nineteenth century, the Millpond contained a gristmill, wheat mill, and sawmill. By the twentieth century, it had become the largest trading center in Gates County. Its present purpose: a viable habitat for animals such as river otters and plant species such as the water violet. As for the State Park’s benefits to humans, that included activities such as camping and backpacking, drawing and guided tours.