The Palo Pinto County Historical Commission announced that an Official Texas Historical Marker has been placed at Possum Kingdom State Park on Park Road 33 overlooking the CCC Campsite. There one can view the flag pole, limestone camp walks, and the concrete slabs where the water tower and generator stood.
The marker also serves as a memorial to honor all the men in Camp 2888 for their labors in the development of beautiful Possum Kingdom State Park.
Possum Kingdom State Park was developed during the "Great Depression" originally to preserve, to naturally landscape, to establish public recreational facilities, to provide employment, and to preserve the pioneer traditions of the early settlers along the winding Brazos River through vast ranch land.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the US Congress, as a part of the New Deal, offered emloyment through the public works projects and conservatin of natural resources. A part of the New Deal provisions was creating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in March, 1933.
This organization employed young men, ages 17 through 25, whose families encountered hardships due to he effects of depression. FDR's vision was to build state parks where families could go for recreation and spend leisure time together. Thousands of young men in the 1930's joined the CCC for adventure and the hope of opportunity along with employment. They moved through the country like an army, living in tents and crude barracks at camps far away from home. They earned $30 a month for their backbreaking labors and $25 of their pay was sent directly to their families.
The first officers arriving at the camp were James L. STITT, camp commander, and A. R. HENRY, superintendent. M. Lee DUDLEY, a sargeant, was in charge of all the vehicles used at the camp. He came with the first group of men, bringing five barracks. Dudley told how the barracks were built in sections and hauled in by trucks. The trucks carrying the barracks had to snake a path through the mesquite and cedar trees to the campsite. Jerry M. SPIER has a map designatiing the location of the camp buildings and facilities.
The camp consisted of a library, recreation hall, kitchen and mess hall, a classroom equipped with a shop, office building with a supply room, officers building, civilian personnel office, truck barn with a shop, state truck barn and blacksmith shop, and infirmary.
On May 1, 1941, a unit of 155 young men established the Possum Kingdom CCC Camp. Additional recruits joined this unit making 200 men in the camp. The men were issued World War I Army uniforms, army vehicles, and equipment. The recruits were treated just like privates in the Army, except they were not given weapons.
The CCC men provided the labor force for completing seven-and-one-half-miles of Park Road 33 from the MITCHELL and COPELAND ranches to the state park. The CCC is also to thank for building culverts, bridges, park ranger cabin, a small store, visitors cabins, picnic tables, hiking trails, and a water and sewer distribuion system.
Three Palo Pinto County men know to have served in this camp were Glen HANDY, and two brothers, Orville and Clarence SPINDLE. The Palo Pinto County Historical Association would like to know of other area men who served in this camp.
Perhaps even more important than the physical labor performed, the CCC educated and trained hundreds of men who mightnot have been able to afford higher education. Education was not the objective, but vocationaltraining was vital for many of the men who had dropped out of school.
Possum Kingdom State Park was the last Texas State Park--number 65, in fact--to be developed. The camp was closed July 13, 1941, because of the abolishment of the CCC due to the beginning of World War II. The camp was quickly dismantled and everything was dispersed to several nearby Army camps.
Possum Kingdom State Park lies at the southwest corner of Possum Kingdom Lake, 17 miles north of Caddo on Park Road 33. It is within a beautiful setting, quiet and peaceful, where one can enjoy the outdoors, fishing, camping, picnics, and family reunions. One can see an abundance of wildlife, including white-tail deer and the park's herd of Texas longhorn cattle grazing the CCC camp area.
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