History

Early visitors

View of lake with forest on the far sidePeople have been coming to this area for thou­sands of years. Nearby pre­his­toric sites include remains from Paleo­indian (9500 BC – 6000 BC) through Caddo Indians (AD800 – 1680).

Historians think the earliest European visitor was Spanish explorer Luis de Moscoso Alvarado in 1542. Centuries later, French traders built a trading post near here to connect the area to New Orleans.

Natural resources

In addition to farming and ranching, the area is known for its iron ore deposits and pine forests.

Local iron ore was mined to make wea­pons during the Civil War. Sawmills and wood-working plants sprung up to harvest and use the local pine wood.

As a result, the Civilian Conservation Corps had to replant most of the forest when they arrived in the 1930s.

Learn more:

Civilian Conservation Corps

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 during the Great Depression. The program pro­vided jobs and training by hiring young men and veterans to work on conservation and park development projects.

CCC recruits lived at the work location. They received clothing, food, medical care and $30 a month, $25 of which went to their families. In their free time, enrollees played sports, attended evening classes, visited local towns and churches, wrote camp newsletters, and read in the camp library.

Creating a Park

Concrete steps and walkway down to the park lakePrivate owners deeded the land for Dain­ger­field State Park to the state in 1935. Two CCC companies, 2891, a white unit, and 1801(C), a black unit, built the park between 1935 and 1939.

View of lake through eight-pointed star in wall of combination buildinThe men used local timber, stone and con­crete for building ma­te­rials. Designs for some of the park’s structures called for a modern style using con­crete rather than local lumber or rock. You can see this style in the Combination Building with its dis­tinc­tive eight-pointed stars, the Boat House and the en­trance sign across from Cabin 1.

CCC enrollees created an 80-acre lake and its dam to serve as the focal point of the park. They replanted much of the pine forest. They also built the scenic road, Bass Lodge, retaining walls, culverts, steps, trails, horse trails (no longer used), parking curbs, chairs, tables and benches.

Learn more about the CCC’s work here at The Look of Nature: Daingerfield.

Restoring a Legacy

TPWD closed the park for a year in 2011 for a major remodel. Improvements in­cluded three new campground rest­rooms and an upgrade to full hookup campsites for the Big Pine, Dogwood and Mountain View areas.

The CCC-built Combination Building, orig­i­nally a bathhouse and concession stand, is now a day-use recreation hall and park store.