Mother Neff State Park to Showcase New Facilities

Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 icle__media__contact">Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov
Rodney Franklin, State Parks regional director (254) 867-7961 or Rodney.franklin@tpwd.texas.gov

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MOODY — Mother Neff State Park will welcome visitors on Jan. 23 and 24 to a celebration of a $6.5 million park renovation that includes a new limestone headquarters, maintenance facilities and a 20-site camping loop. The new facilities, located at the north end of the park, complement the original Civilian Conservation Corps structures, enhance the camping experience and provide visitors with a better understanding of the park’s history and natural and cultural features.

A grand reopening is set for 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 23 at the new park headquarters. The public is invited and park entry fees are waived for both days. After a welcome ceremony and a formal dedication, local and state dignitaries and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department leaders will recognize people who contributed to the almost two-year construction project.

On Saturday, the park will host a family fun day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can learn about “green building” methods employed in the renovations (such as rainwater collection), explore the new facilities and campground, and enjoy such activities as tipi building, cow-milking demonstrations, a backyard feeder craft activity, Native American games, geocaching and rope making.

New exhibits inside the new park headquarters building, which also houses a Texas State Park Store and multimedia room, include original CCC artifacts that provide insight into the history and cultural and natural resources of one of Texas’ first state parks. Visitors will be able to record their own special memories of the central Texas landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Authors will be signing books on Texas State Parks and Mother Neff in the headquarters lobby at both the Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 events. The books will be available for purchase at the Texas State Park Store.

The extensive renovations work in harmony with existing CCC structures, archeological sites and the natural habitat. The new camping loop with 20 multi-use sites provides visitors with a rare opportunity to experience an overnight stay near the site of the original CCC camp. Members of CCC Company 817 built the park facilities from 1934 to 1938 on land donated in the 1920s and 1930s by Gov. Pat Neff and his mother, Isabella Eleanor Neff, for whom the park is named. Mother Neff State Park officially opened to the public in 1937.

“The first phase of the redevelopment reflects the need to develop safer camping opportunities and park facilities at the park’s higher elevations that can be enjoyed regardless of frequent bottomland flooding,” says TPWD’s Joelynn Barclay, master planner. “The new layout recovers lost recreation opportunities for the public, conserves important resources and ensures the overall sustainability of the park.”

The almost 400-acre state park located along the Leon River southwest of Waco roughly 16 miles off of Interstate 35, has been subject to repeated flooding throughout the decades that has impacted park operations and closed the park to day users and campers for extended periods. One particularly severe event in 1991 flooded the park with 23 feet of water, inundating the bottomland portion of Mother Neff where the historic CCC-built rock tabernacle, group recreation hall and old park headquarters and are located, closing the park for six months.

Future phases of redevelopment set forth in the park’s redevelopment plan, which will be implemented when funding becomes available, will include a group hall, campfire theater, small group bunkhouse, cabins, riverside kayak launch and comfort station, and repairs to the historic CCC structures.

For more information about Mother Neff State Park, visit www.texasstateparks.org or call (254) 853-2389.