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To Love the Beautiful: The Story of Texas State Parks

A New Deal for Texas State Parks:  Starting Over

CCC boys building a bridge arch at Big Bend, 1934Building a bridge arch at the Big Bend CCC camp, 1934. The boy in front is identified as "Shorty," who stood 4 foot 11 inches.

#1989/6-196, Don R. Brice Collection, Prints and Photographs Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives.

At the hour of his greatest triumph, Colp suddenly found himself out on his ear. James Allred was elected governor in the fall of 1934, and he disliked Colp and his freewheeling ways. Specifically, Colp’s handshake style of doing business had meant huge headaches for Allred as attorney general, as Colp was lackadaisical about documenting things like expenditures and land titles.

But Allred hadn’t reckoned on a huge outpouring of support for Colp from all over the state. Thousands of Texans wrote to support the man who had single-handedly carried the Texas State Parks Board for more than ten years, largely at his own expense. Colp was brought back as a consultant, but died of influenza in January 1936. Pat Neff, who became chairman of the board, recalled that he and Colp had driven more than 20,000 miles together in support of Texas parks.

Neff also discovered that Colp had carried around in his head vast amounts of knowledge about the parks system that no one else had. State parks engineer Bob Whitetaker undertook a massive project to gather information about all the parks and their operations. The parks board realized that they had depended too heavily on Colp for too long. Moving forward, they set more regular financial policies and got a handle on managing the system by hiring the first salaried executive secretary, Bill Lawson.

Sam J. Logan to D.E. Colp, 1935


In the depths of the Depression, this staff member, who probably worked on the Mother Neff State Park project, expresses his gratitude for his job.




H.G. Webster to Bill Lawson, September 1937



Acquiring the land for Texas state parks could be quite an ordeal, as this letter to Bill Lawson from a Huntsville banker attests.



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Page last modified: November 7, 2016