Filed Under State Park

Bonham State Park

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.

Images

The Boat House at Bonham State Park Bonham State Park's Boat House sits atop the park's 65-acre lake. The Boat House is indicative of the rustic architectural style employed by designer Joe C. Lair. Source: John Chandler, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
White Stone "Rip-Rap" Protects the Lake CCC Company 894 found quite the task in bulding the earthen dam that was to enclose the park's lake. The Corpsmen used local limestone and other natural resources in building the dam. Source: John Chandler, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Stone Bridge, 2008 The stone bridge pictured above was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was intended to, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, "provide required features with minimum intrusion into the landscape." Source: John Chandler, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Design Layout for Park Buildings, c. 1936 Designed by architect Joe C. Lair, the above layouts displayed the plans for the park's boat house and other storage buildings. The majority of these buildings would be constructed using the National Park Service's rustic style. Source: Texas State Library and Archives
Picnic Table, c. 1938 The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that the picture above was used as part of author Herbert Maier's "The Library of Original Sources." Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
CCC Company 894 Constructs the Park's Dam Take in 1934, the picture above shows the CCC working on the earthen dam that would surround the park's lake. Corpsmen used hand tools to accomplish the more tedious tasks that the machines could not reach. Source: National Parks Service
Building the Park's Boat House The Boat House at Bonham State Park was completed in 1936 and was used for storage and shelter. The picture reveals a drawbridge style of design that was used to support the roof of the house. Source: National Park Service
Bonham's Sam Rayburn pictured with John F. Kennedy Longtime Texas Congressman and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn (right), was originally from the small town of Bonham. The picture above was taken during one of President Kennedy's visits to Dallas. Source: Dallas Morning News

Location

Metadata

Kollin Fields, “Bonham State Park,” East Texas History, accessed September 30, 2022, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/120.