TPWD News Release — Sept. 14, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — An ambitious new Web site called The Look of Nature: Designing Texas State Parks in the Great Depression explores the architectural heritage of the Civilian Conservation Corps still visible in state parks. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Web design firm Terra Incognita created the site, funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts grant.
The CCC was a depression-era federal program that put unemployed young men to work on public works projects across the country. President Franklin Roosevelt created the program in 1933, and it employed 2.5 million 17-to-25-year-old men and World War I veterans on nearly 3,000 camps across the country. Workers were paid $30 per month — $25 was sent directly to their families. As the economy began to rebound and World War II shifted national priorities, the program was ended during the summer of 1942. Between 1933 and 1942, some 50,000 CCC workers in Texas laid the groundwork for more than 50 parks across the state, 29 of which are operated by TPWD today.
"I encourage people to take time to look through The Look of Nature as they might an interactive museum," said Angela Reed, a TPWD historian who worked on the Web site. "While entertaining for the casual viewer, the site is also a practical tool for visitors to learn more about parks they might consider visiting."
Generous donors gave the ambitious project a big boost. From Dallas, the Hillcrest Foundation, founded by Mrs. W.W. Caruth, Sr. and the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust provided funds for both the Web site and a traveling exhibit about CCC architecture. The project also won a prestigious design grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in national competition for funding.
This Web site contains historical information for all 29 CCC-built state parks in Texas operated by TPWD. Visitors can view archival CCC photos, vintage postcards, photographs of CCC artifacts, architectural drawings, and oral history videos. The site is divided into three sections: the Interactive Program, Park Profiles and Archives.
Clicking on the Interactive Program brings up four short documentary video chapters that contain 1930s film footage and photos of the CCC in Texas, as well as interviews about the CCC. The first and second videos, CCC and Texas State Parks and Camp Life, focus on how and why the CCC got started, and what daily life was like in the Corps. The third and fourth videos, Designing the Parks and The Legacy of the CCC, discuss the architectural design and construction of CCC buildings and features, as well as the urgency of preserving them for future generations.
Clicking on the Park Profiles link allows visitors to view the CCC history of a specific park and see which park buildings were constructed by the CCC, which companies were assigned there, and their dates of service.
The Archives link brings up a menu of more than 500 records collected for the Web site, including historic photographs of CCC workers, original objects that CCC enrollees used, architectural drawings and oral histories. You can narrow your search of visual records using a keyword or by searching by park name, date, or CCC company number. "It’s fun to explore," said Cynthia Brandimarte, the Web site’s Project Director. "You will find yourself returning to the Web site many times and then wanting to head out to visit one of the beautiful CCC parks."
News reporters can contact Cynthia Brandimarte at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 389-4464 to get more information about this aspect of Texas history, or to explore going to visit any of the 29 CCC-built state parks currently operated by TPWD.
PHOTOS from the National Archives showing CCC construction activity in Texas State Parks are available for news media use as high resolution .jpg files in the Civilian Conservation Corps news images download group on the TPWD Web site.
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