History

Cleburne State Park is a 528-acre park that encompasses a lively 116-acre, spring-fed lake. Located southwest of Fort Worth in Johnson County, the park was acquired from the city of Cleburne and private owners in 1935-36 and was opened in 1938.

The region surrounding Cleburne State Park was a favorite hunting ground for many Indian tribesmen, since it was composed of dense woods surrounded by plains and included several clear springs. The Comanches used this area as a trail from the northwest to raid the homesteads in the south. The Indians would lead two fresh horses as they rode a third one, switching to a fresh horse as each was winded. In this manner, they would escape their pursuers.

Their concealed trail was last used for a raid on Kimbell (now known as Kimbell Bend), which was built in 1851 and was the first town in Johnson County. Kimbell was established on the Chisholm Trail at its crossing on the Brazos River. Vast herds of cattle from the southern ranches in Texas crossed at Kimbell Bend going north to the markets. The park, located eight miles north of Kimbell Bend, was also a good campsite for the cowboys who drove cattle on the Chisholm Trail.

In 1934, this beautiful valley of springs was recognized as a picturesque place for a park. A group of local businessmen, interested in its development, secured it for the State Parks Board to establish a state park. In 1935, Civilian Conservation Corps Company 3804 of the federal government moved into the park site to start developing a park.

The men built a small earthen dam to impound the park's 116-acre lake, with a beautiful masonry, three-level spillway, and then cleared a three-mile scenic roadway around the lake. A concession building, boathouse and bathhouse were built in 1936, with additions in 1940.

The park residence, water tower and interior furnishings display a variety of handcrafted wood and metal ornaments.

Learn more about CCC construction at Cleburne State Park at The Look of Nature: Designing Texas State Parks During the Great Depression.


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