Caddo Lake State Park is situated in the beautiful region of East Texas, near the Texas-Louisiana border. The park has been in operation for nearly 75 years, serving guests with its campgrounds, hiking trails, and cabins, as well as many other natural attractions.
The park's rich history includes the presence of the Caddo Indians of the 18th and 19th centuries, although it is believed that people have inhabited this East Texas area for nearly 12,000 years. When the Caddos first arrived, they continued their semi-nomadic style of hunting and gathering. With the vast wetlands and an expansive forest, the Caddos were able to hunt, fish, and develop a farming system. Throughout the 19th century the Caddo Indians were gradually driven away from the area as some of Texas's first families began settling the area. Among these first Texans was T.J. Taylor, who many Americans recognize as the father of Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndon Johnson's wife.
In the early 1930s, Taylor, with other local businessmen and groups, donated land to the state of Texas with the intent to build a state park on its grounds. Caddo Lake State Park, among other reasons, is noteworthy for being the first Texas state park to be supervised by National Park Service (NPS). With guidance from NPS, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) completed the project within four years after it was commissioned in 1933.
CCC Companies 889 and 857 were responsible for most of the park’s construction and eventual completion. These and other CCC companies were part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal initiative begun during the interwar period of the 1930s. Roosevelt commissioned the CCC in 1933 with the intent to employ young men across the country. These young men between the ages of 17 and 25 were put to work in manual labor jobs across the country, building bridges, schools, parks, and other public improvements. The majority of CCC workers earned an average of $30 per month and were expected to send most of that home to their families.
With NPS supervision and a crew of able-bodied CCC workers, construction on Caddo Lake State Park began in 1933. Company 889 started the initial phases of construction, working there until November 1933. With a year between building projects, Company 857 replaced Company 889 and started work on the park in October 1934. The teams built cabins, shelters, roads and entrances based on NPS designs that incorporated natural materials harvested from the parkland. Caddo Lake State Park was completed in 1937 and the deed given to the State Park Board.
Today Caddo Lake State Park boasts several miles of hiking trails, public facilities, cabins, and an impressive array of wildlife. Park goers today can still enjoy the natural architecture and park attractions built by CCC.