Texas state parks are home not only to natural beauty, but also to historic buildings and other structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.
In “Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps,” coauthor Cynthia Brandimarte has mined the organization’s archives, as well as those of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation, to compile a visual record of how this New Deal program left a stamp on many of the parks we still enjoy today.
Between 1933 and 1942, some 50,000 men enrolled in the CCC in Texas constructed trails, cabins, concession buildings, bathhouses, dance pavilions, a hotel and a motor court. Before they arrived, the state’s parklands consisted of 14 parks on about 800 acres, but by the end of World War II, CCC workers had helped create a system of 48 parks on almost 60,000 acres throughout Texas.
Accompanied by many never-published images that reveal all aspects of the CCC in Texas, from architectural plans to camp life, the book covers the formation and development of the CCC and its design philosophy; the building of the parks and the daily experiences of the workers; the completion and management of the parks in the first decades after the war; and the ongoing process of maintaining and preserving the iconic structures that define the rustic, handcrafted look of the CCC.
With a call for greater appreciation of these historical resources, especially in light of the recent Bastrop fire, which threatened one of the state’s most popular CCC-era destinations, Brandimarte profiles 29 parks, providing a descriptive history of each and information on its CCC company, the dates of CCC activity, and the CCC-built structures still existing within the park. These profiles provide a heritage travelogue for car trips or just armchair visits.
Brandimarte is director of the historic sites and structures program at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, where she oversees the architectural preservation and protection of historic park resources.
Coauthor Angela Reed, who now serves as preservation program manager for Preservation Austin, formerly coordinated the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks Initiative.
The 188-page book is available through Texas A&M University Press. $25.