Located along the Leon River bottoms on land settled by Noah and Isabella Neff, the property became the site of numerous gatherings and summer chautauquas during the family’s ownership. When the couple’s son, Pat Morris Neff (Pat Neff), inherited the land, he named the site in honor of his mother with the intent of developing it as a state park, as she had proposed. Pat Neff was well positioned to accomplish this, having served as governor of Texas (1921-1925), as president of Baylor University (1932-1947), and as a member of the State Parks Board (1933-1939). CCC Company 817 worked at the site from 1934 to 1938, quarrying native limestone and milling local oak, elm, juniper, and cottonwood to construct the pavilion, residence, concession building, and water- and observation-tower from which to survey the heavily wooded terrain. When the CCC left, some features of architect Guy Newhall and landscape architect Stewart King’s designs remained unfinished. Many of these were addressed in the early 1940s by a nearby young women’s unit of the National Youth Administration, another New Deal agency. Closely associated with the park is the adjoining locally-known Old River Road (F.A.S. 21-B(1))—a federally assisted secondary road built in 1939 by the Texas Highway Department—which follows the Leon River for much of its length from the west entrance of the park to FM 107.
Contrary to popular belief, Mother Neff was not the first state park; Texas had others at the time of Mother Neff’s development. The notion most likely grew from promotions by Neff himself who felt the family site served as inspiration for the state parks program.
- Park Location
- Coryell County, 16 miles west of Interstate 35 (exit 315), FM 107 to State Highway 236 to Park Route 14
- CCC Company
- Activity Dates
- CCC Construction
- Entrance Portal, Park Roads, Culverts, Recreational Pavilion/Tabernacle, Concession Building/Club House, Caretaker’s Dwelling, Lookout Tower/Water Tank, Pump Houses, Drainage System, Foot Trails, Fences, Picnic Facilities, Garage, and Storage and Tool House. Despite early terracing of the floodplain as part of the CCC work, rising water related to the unanticipated construction of Lake Belton in 1954 has threatened and inundated the facilities in recent decades, especially those in the lower stretches of the park.
- See all objects related to Mother Neff State Park
- Learn More
- Park information from Texas Parks and Wildlife website