From Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle to Lake Corpus Christi on the coast, from Balmorhea in far West Texas to Caddo Lake near the Louisiana border, the state parks of Texas are home not only to breathtaking natural beauty, but also to historic buildings and other structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. In Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 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 rich visual record of how this New Deal program left an indelible stamp on many of the parks we still enjoy today. Some fifty thousand men were enrolled in the CCC in Texas. Between 1933 and 1942, they constructed trails, cabins, concession buildings, bathhouses, dance pavilions, a hotel, and a motor court.
Before they arrived, the state's parklands consisted of fourteen parks on about 800 acres, but by the end of World War II, CCC workers had helped create a system of forty-eight 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, Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps 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 twenty-nine 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.
"A book on this topic is long overdue. This will be an important study, and I look forward to having it on my bookshelf very soon."
– Dan K. Utley, Chief Historian, Center for Texas Public History, Texas State University – San Marcos, and co-author, History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers
"This book, which has plenty of vintage and current photos, should stand as the definitive work on this interesting segment in the history of Texas's state parks program."
– Austin American-Statesman
"In Texas State Parks and the CCC:The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Cynthia Brandimarte has written a rich history about how this New Deal program left an indelible stamp on many of the Texas State parks."
– Texas Public Radio
"It's a great story about an essential public service, and informs a new generation of park visitors. The authors have produced a very competent work, making strong contributions to Texas political and cultural history."
– James W. Steely, consulting historian and author, Parks for Texas: Enduring Landscapes of the New Deal
"It is inconceivable to imagine that Texas would have a state parks system without the immense contribution of the members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. My colleagues Cynthia Brandimarte and Angela Reed, who know more about the cultural resources found in our state parks than anyone, have given life to that contribution through the voices of those who built the unique structures in beloved places like Bastrop and Palo Duro Canyon State Parks. Somehow, on these pages they have managed to express the experiences of the workers, early politicians, park visitors, and park professionals as if the words were coming from the old walls themselves. For those of us who have loved and enjoyed the Texas state parks system for so long, Brandimarte and Reed have found an eloquent way to tell the story of its origins and of the impoverished youth who found in these beautiful places their own humanity."
– Andrew Sansom, Executive Director, Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University in San Marcos
"Those interested in Texas State Parks and the [Civilian Conservation Corps] will want this coffee-table volume, but more importantly it is a logical purchase for all community, regional, and historical libraries in Texas. Published in 2013 in the Texas A&M Travel Guides series, this beautiful and informative book is a valuable resource for all who are curious about CCC legacy in the Texas parks. Throughout, the book employs maps, posters, photos of places and events, charts, architectural renditions, cartoons, and people in the parks to illustrate its story."
– Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"The CCC legacy to the Texas state park system is invaluable and irreplaceable. This well-researched book is a timely reminder of the importance of the parks to the lives of Texans and visitors alike, and of the dedication and skill with which the people of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department protect and maintain them."
– David G. Woodcock, Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Director Emeritus, Center for Heritage Conservation, Texas A&M University
"Cynthia Brandimarte and Angela Reed have done a 'work of love' in the publication of Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They have been able to capture the beauty and history of the development of our Texas state parks where the CCC started our system. We need to remember the hard work and effort these 'boys' of the CCC gave for generations of Texans and other visitors to enjoy. I would recommend this book to anyone who has gone to any of our parks and would like to visit others."
– John Cobb, President, Texans for State Parks
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Cynthia Brandimarte is director of the historic sites and structures program at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, USA where she oversees the architectural preservation and protection of historic park resources.
Angela Reed, who now serves as preservation program manager for Preservation Austin, USA formerly coordinated the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks Initiative.