Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps

By Cynthia Brandimarte; Angela Reed | Go to book overview

The CCC Creates a
Texas State Parks System

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in March 1933, the United States was experiencing the worst economic depression in its history. Factories had closed, banks and companies had become bankrupt, and a quarter of all workers were unemployed. Agricultural income had plummeted, and debts, exacerbated by an unprecedented drought in the Southwest, had driven many farmers from their land. To get the nation back on its feet, Roosevelt created an array of programs known collectively as the New Deal. One of these programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was aimed at putting young men back to work improving national and state forests and parks.

Almost 3 million Americans, most of them between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, but including some destitute veterans of World War I and even the Spanish-American War, joined the CCC between 1933 and its disbanding not quite ten years later. An estimated fifty thousand were assigned to work in Texas during six-month enlistments, with a maximum of two years’ service allowed. Guided by ideas and designs prepared by professional architects in the National Park Service (NPS), CCC enrollees constructed trails, cabins, concession buildings, bathhouses, dance pavilions, and even one hotel and a motor court to attract visitors to Texas parks.1 Before 1930, Texas state parks had totaled just over eight hundred acres, on which fourteen state parks existed. In 1942, after CCC workers had finished transforming land into places for public recreation, there were almost sixty thousand acres and forty-eight parks.2 By the time the companies were disbanded in 1942, CCC workers had laid the foundations for today’s Texas state park system.


Understanding the Great Depression

When a typical young enrollee jumped out of a transport truck at a CCC work site in Texas, he had only limited knowledge of the circumstances that brought

-3-

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Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Fore Word ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • The CCC Creates a Texas State Parks System 3
  • Building CCC Parks in Texas 29
  • The CCC Legacy’s First Half Century 59
  • Preserving the Legacy 87
  • Epilogue - Inferno at Bastrop on Labor Day Weekend~° ˛˛ 109
  • Park Profiles 121
  • Notes 153
  • Bibliogr Aphy 157
  • Index 161
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