Spotlight: The Legacy of the Texas State Park System

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Photo of Pat Morris Neff. Pat Morris Neff served as Texas Governor from 1921 to 1925. He was instrumental in the creation and development of the Texas State Parks system. Neff and his mother, Isabella Neff, donated land to the state which became Mother Neff State Park. Governor Pat M. Neff, about 1925. John F. Wallace collection, 1970/093.

When Governor Pat Neff established the Texas State Parks Board in 1923, he envisioned Texans exploring the great outdoors and traveling via automobile to new destinations. The creation of the CCC furthered that vision by expanding the state’s fledgling park system and building the roads and bridges to facilitate travel.

The Texas State Park system witnessed resurgence in interest with the creation of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in 1963. The new agency was created by combining the Texas Game and Fish Commission and the State Parks Board. The TPWD focused its efforts on acquiring land to create new parks and updating older facilities such as the CCC-created parks of which 31 parks still exist. Additionally, the agency created programming to teach Texans about the rich diversity of Texas environs and wildlife. Today, Texas boasts over 70 state parks and countless recreational activities.

These select images from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department show Texans enjoying nature from picnicking at Bastrop State Park to swimming at Possum Kingdom State Park to storytelling at Indian Lodge nestled in the Davis Mountains.

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Select photographs, 1938-1976. State Parks Division, Parks and Wildlife Department records, 2011/434.

These photographs document recreational activities at Bastrop, Goose Island, Possum Kingdom, and Velasco state parks. Note: Velasco State Park no longer exists. It was established in 1939 and located on the coast of Brazoria County near Brazosport until 1980.

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Page last modified: November 3, 2016