Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring, 2003 Page: 22
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At the conclusion of two years of operation,
CCC officials prepared a report summarizing
the White Rock camp's initial accomplishments.
In addition to the buildings constructed
at Doran's Point, Dixon Branch, and
Sunset Bay, the young workers transplanted
1,500 trees to the Doran's Point area, constructed
6,000 feet of"rip-rap" retaining walls
at various points around the lake, completed
several erosion control projects, and planted 75
acres of pecan seedlings in what is now
Norbuck Park, which they took special care to
protect from grass fires.12 Today's park visitors
probably take these and other trees planted by
the CCC for granted, but a glance at aerial
photos of the lakeshore taken prior to 1930
reveals that trees were not abundant prior to the
arrival of the federal agency. Indeed, only in the
Dixon Branch area and along some of the other
creeks that feed the lake was there any sizeable
foliage prior to the establishment of the park.
Between 1935 and 1937, the CCC also
placed "thirty-five hundred bundles of willows
and one hundred yards of gravel ... in the lake."
"The willow bundles," explained CCC officials,
were "for the protection of small fish and
the gravel beds for spawning beds." For the
benefit of park visitors, approximately ninety
"table and bench combinations" were
"constructed and placed in extensively used
picnic areas, adjacent to the eastern shore of the
lake" along with "seventy camp stoves and
Dredging the Lake
The 1937 report concluded with a list of
"Proposed Developments." Foremost among
them was a plan to use a dredge boat to reclaim
the shallow marshlands that had formed at the
mouth of Dixon's Branch, owing to the deposit
of silt over a period of time. When spawning
fish were trapped here during periods of
drought, read the report,"rapid evaporation and
[the] hot sun soon kill them, resulting in the
loss of the fish and causing offensive odors plus
Although dredging was originally scheduled
to begin on September 15,1937, the work
did not start until after November 5, when the
City of Dallas took possession of a shallow-draft
hydraulic boat costing $31,973. It was christened
theJoe E. Lawther, in honor of the former
mayor "who long urged preservation of the
lake." The work had barely begun, however,
when problems developed. About a week after
the dredge boat was put into operation, it
began leaking. At first workers used a handpump
to remove the water, but it soon became
apparent that a motorized pump was necessary.
At about 8:30 P.M. on Wednesday, November
17, the situation suddenly grew worse. The Joe
E. Lawther, was at work in Dixon's Branch
when Jess Perkins, a crewmember, looked down
at the deck and noticed water lapping at his
shoes. Within the next minute and a half, the
boat sank in six feet of water as Perkins and fellow
worker F H. Luttrell scrambled to escape
from the sinking vessel.'>
At first no one was sure whom to blame for
the accident. For a while, it was rumored that
drunken CCC workers were at fault, a story
that proved to be unfounded. After W. J.
Redman, a professional diver from Galveston,
re-floated the LallWter, it was discovered that
manufacturing defects, including a lack of"hard
timbers to overcome vibration of the engines,"
caused four leaks in the boat's hull.'"
During the winter of 1937-1938, the Joe E.
Lawther, was repaired. Dredging resumed in
April 1938 and continued until February 1939.
Together with some further dredging that was
performed intermittently until the beginning
ofWorld War II, nearly ninety acres of land was
eventually reclaimed-sixty-eight acres at the
northern end of the lake and twenty at Dixon's
Branch. The removed silt was used to fill
marshy areas around the lake or sold for 25
cents per cubic yard to anyone who had the
means to take it away.7
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring, 2003, periodical, 2003; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35094/m1/24/: accessed January 17, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.