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Historic Daingerfield State Park Takes Hiatus with Eye to the Future
DAINGERFIELD — The now famous Civilian Conservation Corps came to this beautiful northeast Texas forest land in the 1930s to construct Daingerfield State Park. The hard-working New Deal crews built cabins, park buildings, roads and infrastructure. They also created 80-acre Lake Daingerfield at the heart of the park.
"The lake is the number one feature of this park," says Daingerfield Park Superintendent John Thomas. "It was hand-dug by the CCC boys."
This summer, 72 years after the park opened, it will close — on July 5 — but only for a few months. When it reopens in early spring 2011, visitors will discover a better park.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is revitalizing three of the original CCC buildings. There will also be new restrooms, with showers, in all three park camp loops. All these facilities will be accessible to more people than ever, being built or restructured in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Another improvement, one next spring’s guests probably will not notice is a completely new wastewater system. The park’s aging and unreliable septic system is being replaced by a modern vacuum system connected to the Daingerfield municipal system.
The more than $5 million in improvements at Daingerfield are part of a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The three CCC buildings are each in need of major work to make them fully operational and as appealing as when they were constructed.
"We are working with the Texas Historic Commission, as we do with all of our historic projects," says project manager Maureen Barcinski. "We have a historic architect who is working closely with the THC to ensure the rehabilitation is done correctly and the historic assets are protected."
"The Bass Lodge (Group Building) is frequently rented for family reunions or by Scout and church groups, and will be undergoing significant rehabilitation work on both the exterior and interior" says Barcinski. "It has a kitchen, five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a nice living room with a fireplace. Scheduled work includes rehabilitating the floors, walls and ceilings, repairing historic light fixtures, as well as upgrading the finishes in both bathrooms and modifying one bathroom to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. The kitchen will also be renovated to meet ADA standards and a new accessible entry will be added. The scheduled exterior work includes replacing the roof, repairing damaged walls and trim, replacing aluminum windows with wood windows, and removing the window units and installing a central air system. It will be a very nice facility."
The large concession building once functioned as a bathhouse, a concession area and a restroom. Currently, only the restroom portion is used, as the other areas are in need of repair. The scheduled work at this building will include converting the Bathhouse area to a group function area, renovating and reopening the concession area, providing central air to these areas and renovating the restrooms.
"Our park store will be relocated there and a section will be turned into a group dining hall, with kitchen facilities groups can use for special events" Thomas says. "We will have restrooms upgraded to ADA acceptability."
Also being renovated is the boathouse, which will be converted to a park interpretive center. "We have an interpreter on staff and we’ll be able to have all kinds of educational opportunities," says Thomas. "There will also be a display highlighting the CCC in the park."
The park boasts three camping loops with 58 sites. Each loop gets a much-needed new restroom facility, bigger and more modern, with showers and ADA-compliant access.
The new restrooms will be tied into the park’s new wastewater system, a major part of this overhaul and one that lets park personnel get back to park work.
"We are doing something quite innovative," says project manager David Frank. "We are installing a vacuum sewer system as opposed to a conventional low pressure system. We are excited about it being beneficial to the park and a way to bring that into other parks. The system structure will allow service to continue in the event of a power outage. And we are eliminating the septic systems."
TPWD worked with the city council in Daingerfield on the project.
"They were willing to partner with us and cooperate to do this wastewater project," says Tim Anderson, program manager for the North Texas region state park repair projects.
Daingerfield State Park is in northeast Texas, 3 miles from Daingerfield, on US 259, and 136 miles from Dallas. Its 507 acres feature mixed hardwoods and loblolly pines. It offers swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. Last year it attracted 66,000 visitors.
"March through Thanksgiving is our peak time," says Thomas. "In spring we have a lot of dogwoods and all the flowering of the plants. Our summer months are May-July and a lot of day-use visitors are drawn to our swim beach and boat rental operation. It slows some in the August heat, but really picks up in October and November, when the leaves are changing."
Watch the official Dangerfield State Park video on YouTube:
For more information, call the park at 903/645-2921, or visit the website:
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