The Texas state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps are enduring cultural treasures.
Visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year, these state parks showcase the rich architectural heritage of Texas.
From 1933 through 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or the CCC, played a pivotal role in building more than 50 parks in Texas.
Today the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department operates 29 of these parks, and they remain inviting spaces for hiking, swimming, fishing, and camping.
Architects, planners, and craftspeople implemented specific design principles into CCC-built parks to create a distinctive National Park Service "look." Both the designers and the workers helped to build the core of the state park system in Texas.
Governor Pat Neff had begun the state park efforts in the 1920s.
By 1923, the framework for a state parks system, including a small governing board, was set.
Throughout the 1920s, Pat Neff along with David Colp, Texas State Parks Board Chairman, solicited donations of land from citizens across the state.
They would caravan from community to community, and people would hear that the governor was coming. So they would all come out to see the governor.
And the local chamber of commerce would ask before the governor got there if there was someone who didn't have 10 or 20 or 50 acres along the highway on either side of town that they could donate to the governor when he came to town.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president in 1933, he inherited the worst economic crisis in American history.
This was the Great Depression.
The new president understood that he must act quickly to revive the nation.
In his first few weeks in office, Roosevelt established a group of progressive programs known as the "New Deal" to revitalize the economy and to reinvigorate the nation.
One of them was the Civilian Conservation Corps. On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt created the CCC to "take a vast army of these unemployed out into healthful surroundings." Roosevelt assigned the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and War to jointly administer the CCC; the agencies were responsible for recruiting, housing, and training enrollees.
Back in Texas, and with federal monies now available, newly elected Texas Governor Miriam Ferguson, quickly requested funding for CCC projects in the state.
Over the course of the next nine years, some 50,000 men assigned to Texas built roads, dams, trails, and cabins. They also participated in soil conservation efforts.
The backbone of the system are the parks built by the CCC in the 1930s. That really gave this park system a huge leap forward in both concept and in facilities.
By the time of its disbandment in 1942, the CCC's work had opened up recreational parklands to the public and laid the foundation for today's Texas state park system.
Pat Neff, David Colp, and others' dreams had finally come true.