Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 14, Number 2, Fall, 2002 Page: 52
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FROM WATER SUPPLY TO
A History of the Development of White Rock Lake Park
BY STEVEN BUTLER
White Rock Lake Park is the largest
and one of the most popular public
recreation areas in Dallas. Every year
it attracts thousands of cyclists, joggers,
picnickers, boaters, fishermen, young lovers, and
families who come to enjoy its diverse amenities
and pastoral setting.
In 1927, two years
before it was established,
reporter foresaw the
parks popularity, accurately
would quickly become
"the people's playground."
recent years, White
Rock Lake Park has
been dubbed an "urban
oasis." Perhaps no one,
however, has said it
better than former Dallas Morning News columnist
John Anders, who termed the park's 2,115
acres "the soft soul of the city."'
Its centerpiece is White Rock Lake, a manmade
reservoir created in 1911 by the damming
of White Rock Creek, a stream originating in a
pasture near the town of Frisco in neighboring
Collin County. The creek is named for the
cream-colored rock through which the water has
cut its path over the centuries, leaving a meandering
white gash in the black waxy soil of the North
Texas prairie. Surrounding the lake's nine-and-ahalf
mile long shoreline are more than a thousand
wooded acres that provide a safe haven for a wide
variety of plant and animal life. Among the latter
are 33 species of mammals, a large assortment of
reptiles and amphibians, and 217 species of birds,
which may be seen in the air, on the water, or
perched among the branches of the park's
approximately 1,442 trees. Beneath the surface of
this angler's paradise
swim nineteen kinds of
Rock Lake is less than a
century old, the land
both park and reservoir
jointly occupy has a
long history of
has revealed the presence
of human beings
in this area as far back
as 8,000 B.C. Scientific
investigations also confirm that prior to the
arrival of Europeans, Native Americans regularly
hunted bison on the east side of the present-day
lake, in the long, shallow valley formed by Dixon
Branch Creek. Here, the Indians found that the
great shaggy beasts could be easily trapped and
killed by men hunting on foot. Evidence of relatively
large Native American campsites has been
uncovered on the west side of the lake as well,
near the dam's spillway and south along White
Rock Creek, at nearby Tenison Golf Course.
Some sites date back to 500 B.C.3
Bison still grazed the bottomlands of White
Rock Creek when white settlers began arriving in
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 14, Number 2, Fall, 2002, periodical, 2002; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35097/m1/54/: accessed May 27, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.