Located in Fanning County northeast of Dallas, Texas, Bonham State Park consists of 261 acres in the northern region of the Blackland Prairie. The park includes a sixty-five-acre lake, rolling hills, and scenic woodlands. It has been in operation for more than 75 years and provides visitors with a variety of activities and sightseeing opportunities.
Commissioned in 1933, the park was built in the home county of the powerful Democratic congressman, Sam Rayburn. After the land for the park was donated to the National Park Service by the City of Bonham, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) took over the day-to-day construction and landscaping at the site. Young men between the ages of 18 and 25 signed up for the CCC, and they received work assignments, housing, and $30 per month for their labor. This public works project was a major feature of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which sought to combat the ravages of the Great Depression by helping people help themselves.
The men of CCC Company 894 implemented the plans of architects Joe C. Lair and William Caldwell that incorporated local natural resources like limestone and red cedar. The men used these resources to landscape the rocky terrain and to establish erosion control measures around the park. They also constructed the earthen dam that set off a new sixty-five-acre, man-made lake. This new water feature and the rustic buildings and landscaping that the CCC put in place remain central to the park today and allow visitors to get a glimpse into the park’s 75 year history.