Scenic White Rock Lake Park

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Special Features

1937 Description of White Rock Lake Park

Although the document transcribed below is undated, it was probably written about September 1937. The unnamed author is believed to the superintendant of Camp White Rock, Lt. James England. Anyone interested in the history of White Rock Lake Park will find it interesting reading. It not only provides a detailed word picture of the park as it appeared at the time but also a summary of the accomplishments of the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1935 to 1937.

Some of the place names in the report may not be familiar to modern-day park visitors. "Doran's Point," for instance, is now called "Flag Pole Hill." Highway 67 is now better known as Garland Road.

Lake Whiterock Development Outline - SP55 - TEX

This area, formerly a water supply reservoir for the City of Dallas, was released by the Water Board to the City Park Department on December 13, 1929 for recreational purposes. Due to excessive silting of the lake and greater demands for water supply, the City of Dallas was forced to develop a new reservoir and upon its completion abandoned this lake. The lake is ideally located on the eastern side of Dallas to serve the city with major activities, boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking.

This lake covers 1200 acres of the 2800 acre park and has a water shed of 114 square miles. The vegetation includes a wide range of material from aquatic to mesphitic (sic), the dominant being lotus, cattails, elms, willows, cottonwood and grasses. Structural embellishments include approximately 100 cabins scattered in various locations on the eastern side of the lake, docks, boat houses, bath houses, concession houses, and club houses built and maintained by various business firms and organizations in the city.

Lawther drive, a hard-surfaced road, almost encircles the entire lake hugging closely to the shore line. This drive has existed for a number of years and is used mostly by people seeking recreation. It is approximately 12 miles long and is of macadamized construction. There are five entrances two off the Northwest Highway, one off Highway No. 67, and one at the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard. In the vicinity of Doran's Point, the National Park Service has constructed one mile of blacktopped road, leading off the Northwest Highway east of the Point and circling the hill by the shelter house recently constructed by the National Park Service. The only proposed road will be at the concession house now under construction at Dixon's Branch. It will have in connection with it a parking area.

Bridle Trails
There is existing now approximately five thousand feet of bridle trails between Mockingbird Lane and the Cotton Belt Railroad, No more are proposed, however, there will be a bicycle trail built from the concession house at Dixon's Branch to the bath house to keep the cyclists off Lawther Drive in the interest of safety.

Foot Trails
No foot trails are now existing, but about 5000 feet is proposed in connection with the proposed Wildlife Sanctuary.

All the Park area adjacent to the Lake is accessible from Lawther Drive. In the Doran's Point area, the National Park Service has constructed a mile of black-topped road leading by the shelter house and picnic areas in this vicinity with a short branch leading to the overlook.

This area has a park superintendent, assistant superintendent and two police officers. In addition to these there is a staff of employees for maintenance.

On the west side of the Lake there is a concrete boat house with 37 stalls to shelter motor boats. In addition to these there is a large number of privately owned boat houses for the same purpose.

At various points around the Lake are docks for landing rowboats and fishing, most of which are controlled by concessionaires, but a few are for public use without charge.

A sailing boat club is maintained on the east side of the lake and its members have fifty or sixty boats. This fraternity maintained a club house, which was destroyed by fire recently, but plans are being made to construct a new one at the water's edge with a dock in connection.

Just south of the above mentioned sailing boat club, on the same side of the Lake, is a bath house and bathing beach. This unit will accommodate thousands of swimmers and is extensively used.

Sun Set Point on Dixon's Branch maintains the largest playground in the entire park area. It is equipped with swings, see-saws, tennis courts, etc.,

Just across the narrow neck of the lake from Sun Set Point is the shelter house built by C. W. A. employees. Adjacent to this is a number of picnic tables and camp stoves.

Our contributions to the above mentioned facilities are as follows.

Shelter House
This structure is located at Doran's Point, the highest site around the lake. The building is of cut Cordova Lime stone [sic], laid in broken ashlar courses. The dimensions with an open porch are 81' x 38'.

The 5/V butt shingle roof is supported on heavy purlins and rafters on timber trusses. The floor is concrete with cement finish. All lintels are timber. The woodword (sic) is stained silver-grey. This contrast with the stone setting in the dark green live oak trees makes a beautiful sight viewed for a long distance around the park road.

The overlook is on top of Doran's Point, which was a barren rock hill before development began. The top has been leveled off and enclosed with stone piers and guard rails and the enclosure graveled. At the north side of the hill a retaining wall of 120 feet has been built. From an opening in the center of the wall a flight of steps leads to the top of the overlook. This hill has been thoroughly landscaped, cacti, various shrubs, cedar trees, and a miscellaneous collection of native trees have been planted.

Table - Bench Combinations and Camp Stoves
About 90 units have been constructed and placed in extensively used picnic areas, adjacent to the eastern shore of the lake. In connection with these tables and bench combinations, there have been constructed 70 camp stoves and fireplaces.

Other Developments
Fifteen hundred trees and shrubs have been transplanted to the Doran's Point area. Six thousand feet of rip-rapping has been done on the west side of the Lake. Approximately fifty acres of this soil has been treated under classification 716, in Doran's Point area. Twenty-five acres have been sodded in the area just south of the shelter house. Ten thousand square yards of bank has been sloped and sodded along Lawther Drive, from its beginning at the south end of the lake to Sun Set Point. Under job number 607, about seventy-five acres of pecans seedlings have been cultivated and protected from grass fires. Thirty-five hundred bundles of willows and one hundred yards of gravel have been placed in the Lake. The willow bundles are for the protection of small fish and the gravel beds for spawning beds. A cut rock latrine has been built just sixty yards south of the shelter house in the Dixon's Branch area. Two frame, pit type, toilets have been built for the Doran's Point area. Two more of the same type are located in an extensively used picnic area beyond the bath house. A lily pond has been built in the Dixon's Branch Area, fed by a spring across Lawther Drive. The overflow empties into the Lake.

The remainder of our achivments [sic] have been confined to concession houses. One of which is located in the Doran's Point area. This is a complete unit, consisting of main concession building, living quarters adjoining, garage, storage room, live bait house, and latrine. The other concession house is located at Sun Set Point and is now under construction. It is approximately fifty percent completed.

Camp Grounds
Camp grounds are discouraged in this area for the sake of sanitation and the lack of sufficient and suitable area.

Utility Areas
Upon completion of the water and sewer lines proposed by the City in Doran's Point area, water lights (sic), and sewage will be accessible for any development undertaken in any section of this park.

Outlying Units
There are no outlying units.

4. Public Utilities
Water is supplied at all points from the mains of the City of Dallas water supply system. At present, this system is connected to the Army camp unit, concession houses, bath houses, etc. Along the Park road there are five fire plugs and two plugs on the City street just outside the Park boundary. The City proposes to extend the water mains from the present end of the line near the bath house to the shelter house and new combination building near the bridge on State Highway No. 114.

Sewer lines now empty into a sump pit at the sewage pump house and the sewage is pumped to the city lines through a "force Main" [sic]. The City is proposing to enlarge and re-lay the line from the pump pit to the Veteran's Point at the present, and eventually to the new combination building on state Highway No. 114.

The Telephone main cables and lead lines follow the Park road, or the proximity, at numerous points along the Lake shore and vicinity. These lines are a!! Southwestern Bell Telephone Company lines and every location along the Lake shore can easily be served by the telephone company. The bath house, boat house, E. C. W., sewage pump house, and most of the concession houses are now provided with telephone connections.

Power Lines
The Dallas Power and Light Company has power lines extending to practically a!! on both sides of the lake. Every location not now served by the power company can be reached easily with little expense.

Garbage collections are all cared for by the City of Dallas Garbage Department.

5. Proposed Developments
Under Job No. 401, we propose to reclaim for useful development approximately thirty acres of marsh lands in that vicinity where Dixon's Branch flows into White Rock Lake. A study of present topographic features of this area disclosed a peculiar condition. McThurman Branch flows into Dixon's Branch at nearly a right angle. At this point a marsh delta has formed and created a situation that will remain constant for an indefinite period. As more eroded material is brought from adjacent cultivated lands, these two streams overflow their banks on colliding with the still waters of the Lake. The banks are fringes with a dense growth of willows, cattails, and rushes. The result is that all debris and heavier silt is deposited on the banks of the stream and practically clear water flows into the extensive marshes on either side.

It will be noted that the elevation of the bottom of these marshes is 457 feet, while the elevation of the spillway, or maximum elevation of the Lake is 458 feet.

When the lake is full at an elevation of 458 feet, in the spring, there is about one foot of water covering approximately 25 acres of marsh land. Spawning fish and small fry enter these marshes through the small channels (less than one foot deep) connecting them with the main lake. Without frequent rains the lake falls at approximately one inch per 24 hours and all the fish become land-locked within the first few weeks of the drouth (sic). Rapid evaporation and hot sun soon kill them, resulting in the loss of the fish and causing offensive odors plus unsanitary conditions.

Surrounding this area is a majestic growth of virgin forest, with native pecans predominating. This particular section is now being used by picnic parties and recreation seekers, more than any other place around the lake, due to level ground, large trees, great variety of wild life, and dense cool shade. Its further developments would seem contingent upon improving the unsanitary conditions herein described.

The dredge boat to be used by the Dallas Park Board on this lake will be ready to start operations September 15, 1937.

Dixon's Branch Reclamation Project will be the first undertaken by the dredge boat.

A latrine is proposed for the Doran's Point area to serve the shelter house, overlook, and picnic areas in this vicinity.

Wild Life Sanctuary
We propose to build Wild Life Sanctuaries on the west side of the Municipal Boat House and on the west side of the Cotton Belt Railroad. These tracts are not suitable for other development.

There is a very pressing need for barriers around the Lake Drive to prevent the public from driving off the road where they see fit and scarring up the terrain. Definite Parking areas will be built at certain specified intervals along the Lake Drive.

Reclaim Lake Shore
At various points along the eastern shore line of the Lake are narrow strips of land between Lawther Drive and the water edge. Extending from the shore some fifty or sixty feet into lake (sic), the water is very shallow. We propose to fill in the shallow water in the area and create dry land for additional picnic units.

White Rock Lake is located in the White Rock Creek Basin between gently sloping hills on either side. The top soil is black, waxyloam. Largely a silt deposit from the soil marshes above the lake area. Underlying soil cover and in many places close to the top of the ground is a rather soft Austin Chalk foundation extending down a considerable depth.

Wild Life
Wild life in this area consists of the small native species including fish, rabbits, birds, squirrels, frogs, ducks, and geese during migration periods.

A brief description of wild life noted above is as follows,

The fish in this Lake consist of Bass, Buffalo, Carp, Yellow Cat, Mud Cat, Crappie, Sun Perch, and Brem. The City maintains a fish hatchery from which Bass, Crappie, and Cattish are abundantly supplied. Last Spring (sic) a contract was awarded to remove Carp and Buffalo from the Lake and several thousand pounds were removed.

Two varieties of rabbit are found in this park, the common Cotton Tail, which is plentiful, and the Jack Rabbit, only a few of which exist.

Birds of the small native species are found in large numbers, such as Quail, Dove, Coot, Jack Snip, Blue Jay, Mocking Bird, Sparrow, Wren, English Starling, and Red Bird.

The only variety of squirrel found is the Fox Squirrel of which there is an abundance.

Three varieties of frogs are found in this park, i.e., Bull Frog, Common Frog, and Horned Frog. Bull frogs are plentiful but the other two varieties are scarce.

Ducks by the thousands stop here during migration and occasionally a flock of geese for a short time. No hunting is allowed in this area, therefore, the squirrels, rabbits, and birds thrive.

Forests in this area are not extensive but fringe the Lake shore in most places. The species consist of the following variety by common name. White Oak, Black Oak, Bois'd arc, Cottonwood, American Elm, Hackbetry, Ash, Honey Locus, Black Willow, Pecan, Red Oak, Wild Chinaberry, Mullbetry [sic], Box Elder, and Cedar Elm.

Administration and Service
This area has a park superintendent, assistant superintendent, two police patrols, all points around lake; Three Mowing machine operators, throughout park area; one mechanic located at repair shop at the superintendent's residence on west side of lake; four life guards, at bath house on east side of lake, one bath house manager, at bath house; three bath house attendants, at bath house, one grader and one tractor man, throughout park area; two garbage haulers, throughout park area; one fish hatchery keeper, at fish hatchery on southwest side of lake; one motor boat patrol all parts of lake; four truck drivers, all parts of lake.

The city owns and operates the following equipment: four trucks, three passenger cars, one grader, four tractors; one motor boat, one hay bailer, three teams; two rakes; one road roller; two fresnoes; three mowing machines. As a matter of fact all of the equipment is not operated all the year but is used as needed. For the repair and maintenance of this equipment the park superintendent has constructed and well equipped a shop and employs a full time mechanic.

Thanks to Jay Firsching of Architexas for the transcription.

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