Huntsville State Park

Huntsville State Park is a scenic 2000-acre recreational area that adjoins Sam Houston National Forest. The park offers a venue for camping, hiking, biking, and fishing around Lake Raven.

Before European colonization, the park region was inhabited by the Bidai Indians. After disease and Anglo expansion eventually displaced the local residents in the eighteenth century, Spanish settlers established a foothold in what is today known as Walker County.

Later, after Texas won its independence, an intense period of lumbering began. This process stripped many regions in East Texas, but the Huntsville State Park area never experienced clear cutting. In fact, Thomas S. Foster acquired the land in 1911 for his Foster Lumber Company, but he made only periodic efforts to harvest timber from the region.

During the Great Depression, the residents of Walker County decided to purchase the area through the sale of bonds. They then turned the planning and development of the park over to the State Parks Board. Construction began officially in 1937 at the hands of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 1823. President Franklin Roosevelt had commissioned the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of his "New Deal" for the American people. It employed young men between the ages of 17 and 28 to give them productive work to do, but it also offered work to war veterans. Company 1823, largely responsible for the construction of Huntsville State Park as well as several other parks, included many African American veterans of World War I in its ranks.

A flood during 1940 broke the park's dam and threatened to end the project before it was completed. During the early years of the 1940s, Company 1823 began to phase out as many enlisted to aid in WWII. Fortunately, WPA and prison workers were able to continue work on the park and it was eventually opened to the public in May 1956.

Today, Huntsville State Park is home to beautiful camp grounds, a scenic lake, and over 21 miles of hiking trails. Visitors are able to swim, canoe, kayak, hike, fish and camp during their time at the park. Additionally, the park also offers ranger programs, nature centers and more modern overnight accommodations should guests prefer.

Images

Huntsville State Park

Huntsville State Park

A scenic view of the park. | Source: NixBC View File Details Page

Huntsville State Park Master Plan

Huntsville State Park Master Plan

The master plan, including sketch of lake and shoreline. Early date: 1934. Late date: 1945. Black ink on waxed linen. LN: 37.625 x WD: 25.25 | Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission View File Details Page

Huntsville State Park Master Plan

Huntsville State Park Master Plan

Master plan, including overview of park, park boundary, plot plan of custodian's group, Lake Coloneh, wildlife areas, densely wooded sections, Big Chinquapin Creek, U. S. Forest Service property; abandoned tramway, earthen dam, spillway. Specific date: 12/16/1937. Draftsman: Obert. Gray printed on paper (with colored pencil). LN: 36.50 x WD: 24.125 | Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission View File Details Page

Huntsville State Park - Proposed Concession Group

Huntsville State Park - Proposed Concession Group

Proposed concession group, including overview of park, lake, sand beach, future bath house and spectators' terrace, parking areas, roads, combination building and dance terrace, location of future tennis courts. Specific date: 8/26/1939. Draftsman: Patrick. Grey printed on paper, with colored pencil. Doodles on reverse. LN: 36.375 x WD: 27.625 | Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission View File Details Page

Huntsville State Park - Layout Plan of Combination Building

Huntsville State Park - Layout Plan of Combination Building

Layout plan of combination building area, including overview of park, boat house and docks, boat launching area, wooded areas, roads, parking areas, bathing beach improvement, underwater beach improvement, bath house, lake, fluctuation of water. Specific date: 10/15/1940. Draftsman: Pressler, Paul E. Black ink, blue ink, and red ink on waxed linen. LN: 36.00 x WD: 25.00 | Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission View File Details Page

Huntsville State Park - Combination Building

Huntsville State Park - Combination Building

Combination building, including door detail, doors and partitions for toilet stalls, details of front door, screen doors, detail of spindle, dining room doors, lunch room doors, men's room door, floor plan. Specific date: 6/1/1940. Draftsman: Pressler, Paul E. Pencil, red ink, and black ink on paper. LN: 36.125 x WD: 24.00 | Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission View File Details Page

Eleanor Roosevelt and two officers

Eleanor Roosevelt and two officers

K. K. Black, Capt. Van B. Houston, Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1823 Commander, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on front porch of McKinney home, March 1937. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Huntsville on March 7, 1937 where she was the house guest of the Sam McKinney family. During her visit to Huntsville, the First Lady toured the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp of Company 889 in New Waverly, the Sam Houston Memorial and its newly opened Museum and delivered an afternoon address to a crowd of 2,000 packed into the Sam Houston State Teachers College gymnasium. | Source: Walker County Treasures View File Details Page

Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Huntsville, Texas

Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Huntsville, Texas

CCC. Camp photo from Huntsville, Texas. | Source: Jeffrey L. Littlejohn View File Details Page

Spillway Construction, c. 1937 - 1940

Spillway Construction, c. 1937 - 1940

CCC Company 1823 is pictured performing construction on the spillway which was to be used in tandem with Lake Raven's dam. Unforeseeable events in 1940 halted construction on the project, although it was later finished with the help of WPA and prison laborers. | Source: National Archives View File Details Page

Company 1823 Begins Construction on the Dam

Company 1823 Begins Construction on the Dam

The CCC constructed the dam to Lake Raven from 1937 to 1940. Their first task was to clear the area of timber and materials that would have been damaging to the project. In this picture, pipeline is being laid to accommodate the dam's design. | Source: National Archives View File Details Page

The Beginning of Raven Lake, c. 1937 - 1940

The Beginning of Raven Lake, c. 1937 - 1940

The vintage photograph shows Company 1823 hard at work performing the initial construction for Raven Lake. The CCC encountered a few problems while constructing the lake, such as how to re-route the water supply and also deciding how the dam would be built. The lake is named after Texas legend Sam "The Raven" Houston. | Source: National Archives View File Details Page

Working at Huntsville State Park

Working at Huntsville State Park

Men pictured here are cleaning and clearing an area around a camp site. | Source: National Archives View File Details Page

Memorial to Company 1823

Memorial to Company 1823

A memorial to Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1823 at Huntsville State Park | Source: Jeffrey L. Littlejohn View File Details Page

Postcard

Postcard

A vintage postcard from Huntsville State Park. | Source: Walker County Historical Commission View File Details Page

Combination Building at Huntsville State Park

Combination Building at Huntsville State Park

This building, constructed by the CCC, is used today for events, weddings, and lectures. | Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department View File Details Page

Current-day Boat House

Current-day Boat House

This boat house sitting atop Lake Raven serves as a reminder to visitors of the architectural style employed during the park's construction. Its simple design was meant to draw visitors to the park's natural beauty. | Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife View File Details Page

A hiking trail

A hiking trail

Huntsville State Park offers many scenic hiking trails for visitors. | Source: Huntsville State Park View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Kollin Fields, “Huntsville State Park,” East Texas History, accessed June 26, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/92.
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