West Texas: Destination Resort

View Items in this Exhibit

Settled on the slopes of the Davis Mountains of West Texas, Indian Lodge is a 16-room resort hotel constructed by three CCC Companies between 1933 and 1942. Indian Lodge would become a crown jewel of early automobile-based tourism in the state.

Originally named the “Indian Lodge Hotel,” the lodge was designed by architects J. B. Roberts, Olin Smith, Arthur Fehr, William C. Caldwell and landscape architect Roy S. Ferguson as an adobe and wood structure in the style of the native pueblo settlements of the Southwest. The Lodge featured floors and ceilings made from local pine, adobe blocks produced onsite, hand-carved furniture produced at a CCC workshop at Bastrop State Park and a central courtyard designed to resemble a Spanish plaza. CCC companies also constructed the park’s facilities while a nearby CCC company stationed at Balmorhea State Park performed additional work when necessary.

The hotel was intended to be a principal attraction for the state parks in the region. Both the Indian Lodge and the surrounding parks were strategically located in right-of-way property along a “State Park Highway” (now State Highway 118/166) constructed in 1927. The highway ran from U.S. Route 90 to the Big Bend region of the Rio Grande. Middle-class families that could afford a car would eventually have easier access to state and national park facilities at the Davis Mountains, Big Bend, and Balmorhea Lake, all of which could be reached after a stay at Indian Lodge.

Top of page

Items in this Exhibit

The links shown below to the items displayed in this exhibit will open in PDF format in a separate window or tab. Some of the items shown here contain multiple pages.

Miscellaneous Furniture, Fort Davis State Park, 1938. Civilian Conservation Corps drawings, Texas State Parks Board records, SP.4T.119.

This element of a drawing by P.E. Pressler features a table lamp design at Indian Lodge. The highly-stylized decoration demonstrates the CCC and NPS commitment to utilizing an aesthetic deriving from local Native American influences, ranging from broad architecture to relatively minor interior items.

Lounge Chair & Settee, Fort Davis Park, 1938. Civilian Conservation Corps drawings, Texas State Parks Board records, SP.4T.116.

This element of a drawing by P.E. Pressler features a design for a settee in the common areas of Indian Lodge. The CCC employed a large group of skilled designers in the creation of a large range of park materials for Texas, from furniture to entrance signs to dancing pavilions.

Top of page

“The Indian Lodge” poem by Mildred May Maddux, 21 July 1941. Acquisition and development files, Texas State Parks Board records, 2005/041-13.

The author, Mildred May Maddux (1893-1974), was a resident of Pharr in South Texas and a visitor to Indian Lodge.

Brochure for Indian Lodge, undated. Administrative and subject files, Texas State Parks Board records, 2005/041-10.

Among other details, this brochure lists the many amenities available to Lodge guests , including “dancing” and “saddle horses.” The brochure also lists the many local attractions “within easy driving distance on good roads,” exhibiting the automobile-centric nature of the Lodge’s creation.

Menu for Indian Lodge restaurant, 1950s. Acquisition and development files, Texas State Parks Board records, 2005/041-13.

The operation of a full-service restaurant demonstrated Indian Lodge’s commitment to being the Parks Board’s destination attraction for automobile-bound tourists in West Texas. The restaurant’s current name - the Black Bear Restaurant - referenced a long-standing legend dating back to the Lodge’s construction, when the bear mascot of a local CCC camp broke its chain and trapped several workers atop a windmill for an extended period.

Top of page

Rear view, Indian Lodge, 1948. Fort Davis, L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-699.

This photograph, intended for publication as a postcard, depicts the Lodge as it appeared from its opening to the public in 1939 until its renovation in 1964. In the background are the Davis Mountains. The depression between the Lodge and the Mountains is Keesey Canyon, where the Lodge was located.

CCC Camp, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend, Tx, about 1933-1935. Don R. Brice collection, 1989/006-274.

Don R. Brice, a CCC worker, took this overhead view of a CCC camp on the site of Big Bend National Park. The camp was occupied by either Company #879 or #881, both of which would then be tasked to construct Indian Lodge following their work at Big Bend National Park. Most of the long, rectangular buildings were barracks designed to house about 50 workers. The remaining structures would have served a number of specialized purposes, including officer/technical staff quarters, medical dispensary, mess hall, recreation hall, educational building, lavatory, and showers.

Registry Stand, Fort Davis State Park, 1938. Texas State Parks Board Civilian Conservation Corps drawings, SP.4T.118.

This is an element of a drawing by P.E. Pressler featuring a design for a registry stand for the lobby of the Indian Lodge. The design features details and iconography deriving from the Aztec people of central Mexico.

Top of page

Page last modified: November 4, 2016