The contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps to Texas have grown in importance since the 1930s.
More than 1,000 of their buildings, structures, and features remain at the parks operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
These valuable historical resources tell us a great deal about park architecture in the 1930s, about the CCC and the enrollees who built the parks, and about the Great Depression.
Today, scholars, historians, and preservationists work to protect and restore this distinctive architectural heritage for future generations of park visitors.
But some of the most popular structures built by the CCC are in jeopardy, due to over-utilization and a lack of funding for specialized maintenance.
There are some major successes, however.
In 2006, TPWD mustered funding and expertise for restoring and preserving Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park and the mission at Goliad State Park and historic site.
With funding from the Texas legislature, the department restored Indian Lodge to its original 1937 appearance.
Specialists at TPWD also completed an extensive renovation of the Goliad mission.
The important thing is to take good care of what we have. Keep them in good order. If we do, they'll last--they'll continue to last a very, very long time and maintain their historical integrity.
These restored structures—as well as those not yet restored—are precious reminders of a design, level of craftsmanship, and solid construction difficult to achieve today.
Well these buildings not only could not be replicated because of the expense involved and inflation, and the changes in our culture and our concepts, our legacy and good fortune is that they were so well built at the time and the materials are so durable, that with maintenance and with care they will last into the foreseeable future.
In addition to the buildings, the stories of the men who served in the CCC provide insight into the architectural practices of the 1930s, daily life during the Great Depression, and the significance of CCC service for each individual.
Over the years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has committed itself to recording the personal stories of CCC enrollees.
Surviving CCC enrollees still attend reunion celebrations and share photographs and memories of their service with the department staff, their families, and one another.
It was a profound experience. There is a real camaraderie there. The individual stories, that really bring the period to life...
and really talk about what it meant to them, what it meant to their families.
By preserving and protecting structures and capturing the stories of the enrollees, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is insuring that future generations will learn about the Civilian Conservation Corps and recognize its importance to Texas parks and Texas history.
That's the wonderful thing about a park. It can be many things to you. It can be everything you want it to be, and you don't need to think about the depth of who built this who made this road and who built that chimney behind us. But the more you learn about it, the more it means to you, the more it becomes part of your own birthright and your own legacy, and the more you want to go and visit the next one to see what they did there too.