Mother Neff State Park Receives Lone Star Legacy Designation

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WACO— Mother Neff State Park in Waco received the Lone Star Legacy Park designation by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) at a ceremony at their annual institute in Frisco on March 2. Mother Neff State Park was the only state park to receive the award from seven parks nominated this year.

A Lone Star Legacy Park is classified as a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the state. To qualify for consideration, the park must have endured the test of time and become iconic to those who have visited, played, and rested on its grounds. Nominated parks must be a minimum of 50 years old and meet at least one of the following criteria: the property represents distinctive design and/or construction; the park is associated with historic events or sites; the park is associated with events specific to the local community/state or the park is home to unique natural features.

Nestled along a scenic stretch of the Leon River southwest of Waco, Mother Neff is one of Texas’ earliest state parks. Isabella E. Neff — affectionately known as “Mother Neff” — envisioned her acreage near the Leon River as a place for the public to gather, rest and recreate. In her will, she left the Neff Picnic Grounds…. “to the public for religious, educational, fraternal and political purposes.”

Neff was the mother of Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas from 1921 to 1925. In 1923, Pat Neff established the Texas State Parks Board and charged them with creating a statewide parks system. This effort coincided with a national movement to create regional park systems. Between 1934 and 1938, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company #817 constructed buildings, structures, recreational facilities, roads and trails for the park. Pat Neff liked to say that Mother Neff was the “mother of state parks.”

Today, the park offers Texans a place to recreate outdoors with glimpses of the past all around. It still serves as a community and family gathering spot. The natural environments of the river and floodplain corridor, along with upland prairie and forest settings, provide outdoor classrooms for natural science studies for area schools and universities.

The trail system leads visitors to explore the rich landscape and diverse wildlife. The scenic drive allows an accessible way for all visitors to enjoy the pastoral settings. The genesis of this park is unique in the Texas State Park system due to the public use granted by the Neff family. A sense of place is very strong because of that history from the Neffs and by the design brought to life by the CCC. The history of this site and its natural resources combine to make Mother Neff State Park a distinctive and important public park for visitors from Texas and beyond.

Mother Neff State Park is located at 1921 Park Road 14, Moody, TX 76557. For more information, please visit or call (254) 853-2389.

Parks have played an important role in the development of our communities throughout history. Local parks helped promote community, natural respite and social interaction as communities were founded, developed, and prospered.

Seven parks received the honor in the eleventh year of the statewide program. Other parks recognized include Pan American Neighborhood Park, Austin; Veterans Park, Boerne; Bunche Park, Fort Worth; Thomas Park, Katy; Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, and Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, Tyler.

TRAPS is a non-profit 501(c)3 professional and educational organization founded in 1937 with a membership of more than 2,000 parks and recreation professionals. TRAPS is committed to advancing the field of parks, recreation and leisure services in Texas, while advocating for enhanced recreation opportunities and the increase of public green space for Texans.