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GARNER STATE PARK

GARNER STATE PARK. Garner State Park, located on the Frio River seven miles north of Concan on U.S. Highway 83 in far north central Uvalde County, was named for John Nance Garner. The park was promoted by former county judge C. P. (Pink) Spangler and members of the Uvalde County Commissioners Court in 1933; the park became a Civilian Conservation Corps project. Garner was opposed to using federal funds for a park in his home county while he was in office. Mrs. Garner, however, lent her support in spite of her husband. Several interested parties helped purchase 478 acres from Fritz Streib for twelve dollars an acre. Judge Spangler traveled to Washington, D.C., and gained approval for the project from the CCC chairman. A CCC camp, known locally as the forest army camp, was established at the park site in 1935 to begin work. The first building constructed was a mess hall, which, like all of the original park buildings, was constructed of local materials. Members of the tree army felled cypress trees and other hardwoods for use in the manufacture of shingles, heavy beams, and doors at an on-site sawmill. The camp's blacksmith shop forged iron hinges, hardware, and light fixtures. Native stone from local quarries was used for the buildings and fireplaces; the huge stone hearth of the original mess hall, known in 1990 as the concession building, was extracted from a creek bed within the park boundaries.

The Texas State Parks Board accepted the property from Uvalde County on December 11, 1936. Garner State Park was dedicated on April 29, 1941. The number of visitors to the park in 1947 numbered 42,897; in 1963 the number had grown to 997,499. An additional 790 acres was acquired in 1976 from the Streib family, increasing the total acreage within the park to 1,410 acres; subsequent development nearly doubled the number of camping facilities.

Garner State Park is located in the southern portion of the Edwards Plateau. The climate is subtropical; the winters are typically dry and the summers hot and humid. Archeologists have found remains of aboriginal chert quarries in the park in gravel deposits near the Frio River. As of 1972 Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists had identified forty-nine species of herpetofauna, forty-four species of mammals, and over 200 species of birds with ranges that include the park. In 1990 the river was still the park's major source of recreational activity; visitors could fish, canoe, and swim. Various undeveloped walking trails, picnicking facilities, and multi-use camp sites were available.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Development Concept Plan and Program, Texas Parks Design and Planning Section, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin. A Proud Heritage: A History of Uvalde County (Uvalde, Texas: El Progreso Club, 1975).

Ruben E. Ochoa

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Ruben E. Ochoa, "GARNER STATE PARK," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/gkg05), accessed July 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.