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New park opens to public


On this day in 1969, the Lyndon B. Johnson State Historical Park opened to the public. The park is a strip of land bounded on the north by the Pedernales River and on the south by U.S. Highway 290, 1½ miles east of Stonewall in eastern Gillespie County. It is two miles long and a half mile wide and comprises 718 acres. It commemorates the life and career of Lyndon Johnson, whose birthplace and ranch just across the river are part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department accepted 269 acres along the Pedernales from various friends of President Johnson in 1967 and added improvements funded in part by a federal land and water conservation grant. The park was officially dedicated on August 29, 1970, in a ceremony attended by Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird. By 1975 the state had expanded the park to its current size, at a cost of more than $1 million. Besides the visitors' center, which houses a display of Johnson memorabilia and a 250-seat auditorium, the park includes the Behrens Cabin, built in the 1870s by German immigrant Johannes Behrens and furnished with typical nineteenth-century furnishings; the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead, a historical farm operated as it was in 1918; and a nature trail that runs through wildlife enclosures with buffalo, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, longhorn cattle, and other native fauna. Other facilities at the park are an outdoor amphitheater, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a number of picnic areas. In its first five years of operation the park attracted over 3½ million visitors.

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