Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 31
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ests behind the Whitney structure had a rural
constituency whose living conditions were
different from those of their city cousins in
Fort Worth and Dallas. During the late 1920s
when the drive for the reservoir on the Brazos
started, less than ten percent of the farms in
Texas had electricity. Rural families still
lived without running water, indoor bath-
rooms, incandescent lighting and the variety
of appliances and conveniences available to
those living in the city. Thanks to the Rural
Electrification Administration (REA) pro-
gram that started in 1935, Texas farms began
to receive electricity but shortage of power
persisted. During World War II shortages
worsened in the rural areas because defense
plants had top priority for energy. It was for
this reason, to overcome the shortage of
power, that the local interests at Whitney saw
the Brazos as a source of energy, a means of
which they could modernize their homes and
farms and enjoy a standard of living commen-
surate with an industrial society.
Design plans at Whitney included, there-
fore, a powerhouse having two turbines, each
with a capacity of 20,700 horsepower, and two
15,000 kw generators. The dam was expected
to produce 85,000,000 kilowat-hours per year.
Energy would be fed directly to the rural
electric cooperatives in the Central Texas
area. The dam was finished and impounding
of water started in December 1951. Annual
benefits from the operation of Whitney Lake
for flood control, water conservation, and
hydroelectric power production are estimat-
ed at $2,446,000.
The Whitney dam soon served a very
important purpose. In 1950-1956 Texas
experienced its longest severe dry period on
record. According to some reports, it was the
driest spell in 300 years. In 1956, the driest
year, farm income dropped $500,000,000
from the previous year which was also low
because of the drought. Forty-six Texas
counties distributed federal relief food to
families. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
declared the area a national disaster and,
after personally inspecting the state in 1957,
he increased federal relief. At this time the
Fort Worth District of the Corps of Engineers
released enough water from Whitney to save
$5,000,000 rice crop on the lower Brazos
River. Typical of Texas weather, the rains of
1957 were the worst of the century in some
areas of Texas. This thoroughly tested the
flood control projects. Eight separate floods
had roared down the Brazos, but were
stopped and tamed by the Whitney Dam.
"There wouldn't have been much Waco
today," reported one official of the city
located downstream, "if it hadn't been for the
Whitney Dam." Even the largest lake in
Texas, however, had trouble containing the
worst deluge since the turn of the century.
The level of the lake rose to the top of the
flood pool and concessions along the banks
were damaged. Some floated and were unhar-
med, but others were submerged in the
murky water and pounded into splinters by
currents and waves. Access roads were cov-
ered and a log jam threatened a $1,000,000
bridge on Highway 174, but work crews, after
a month-long battle, removed the debris and
saved the bridge. Without the Whitney
Reservoir, flooding along the Brazos would
obviously have been disastrous.
Whitney Lake has an average depth of 24
feet and a maximum depth of 108 feet. It has
225 miles of shoreline and covers an area of
27 square miles. There are 17 public-use areas
providing both day and over-night use. A
total of 14,000 acres are available for hunting
and nature observation. Since January 1,
1984, through April, Lake Whitney had
581,458 visits according to estimated by the
U.S. Corps of Engineers, FWD.
Now for some statistics on the dam itself.
It consists of a concrete structure flanked on
both ends by compacted earth embankments.
It has an over-all length of about 17,695 feet
and a maximum height of 159 feet above
stream bed. The concrete section of the dam
is 1,674 feet long. It consists of the spillway
section, power intake section, and two nonov-
erflow sections. A portion of the dam crest
provides a roadway for the Texas State
Highway 22 with a width of 34 feet. The
remainder of the dam crest is 12 feet wide.
Laguna Park is the result of the moving of
Highway 22 from passing over the river at
Walling Bend to being a raodway on the dam
crest. Immediately small businesses began to
spring up. Ruben Usher had a water system
and also a snow cone business under a big oak
tree. John Hruska had the first grocery store.
Billie and Fred Boyd had the first service
station and cafe. They also sold picnic
supplies. In 1959, they opened the skating
rink which is still operated. Many fishing
lodges were built, among those being Ben-
nett's, Rocky Creek Lodge, Uncle Gus' and
Watt Cole's place. The first lodge to be built
was Rocky Creek Lodge, built by Blanche and
Ellis Pritchett. The second was Watt Cole's
Place and the third Uncle Gus' Lodge. At
present there are many resorts and lodges.
These are Alta Vista Resort, Beachland
Lodge, Cliffview Resort, Fish Hook Lodge,
Ridgewood Lodge, Rocky Creek Lodge,
Sportsman's Lodge and Uncle Gus' Lodge
Laguna Park has a landing field. O.T.
Smyth built the airstrip which was called
"The Flying Farmer's Air Strip."
Three churches, two Baptist and one
Church of Christ, take care of the spirtual
wellbeing of Laguna Park residents. Also,
people who are here just for the weekend also
receive spirtual blessing from these churches.
The monetary value of these three churhes
is surprising and the properties are nearly if
not entirely free from indebtedness. They are
a great asset to the community.
The West Shore Fire Department is one of
the great benefits of Laguna Park. It is made
up of volunteers. The department owns the
fire station and three fire trucks and other
fire-fighting equipment. The firemen are all
trained in CPR and are quick in responding
to any emergency call and have saved lives.
They also have a big annual event that draws
people from everywhere. It is the Fish Fry on
The West Shore Civic Association is an
active group which has done much for Laguna
Park. The organization is responsible for
getting FM 3118 built and also paving the
loop (Channel Cat Road and Shore Acres).
Their efforts also assisted in securing the
new, short-cut to Waco - FM 2490. The Club's
most recent accomplishment was placing
street signs at all intersections. The project
for the present is getting house numbers
placed at all residences. The club meets once
a month with a business meeting following
the covered-dish dinner.
The Bluebonnet Club located on FM 3118
is a definite plus for the people in the
Bluebonnet Club - place of much activity
Laguna Park Post Office
Lake Whitney for water sports
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/47/?q=campbell: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.