Thursday, June 18, 2009

Only in the past few years have I started taking pictures of roadside parks. Above is the first one I ever took. This is out in far west Texas, near Kermit.

I’m not sure why I started collecting the pictures. I have driven by some of these literally hundreds of times as I traveled Texas over the years. I always looked, but I never thought about taking pictures – or maybe I never took the time to stop and explore. Now I am getting a little older. I am not in such a hurry. Well, that’s not true either. Even now I sometimes pull over, jump out and crank off a few snaps, jump back in and head on down the road - but I least I stopped and didn’t shoot it out the window as I passed by.

As I collected images, I began to notice the subtle differences between the various structures I photographed. I began doing some research and reading what I could find about the history of the roadside park in Texas and elsewhere.

No Texan would be surprised to know that Texas claims to have invented and built the first roadside park. My research to date indicates otherwise. It appears some folks in Michigan beat us to it.

And of course, Texans being Texans, there is a smoldering battle as to where the first roadside park in Texas was built. I suppose that will be a point of contention forever.
There is historical information available and I will continue to compile that and research what I can find.
For our purposes here (very briefly) let’s just say that Texas began building roadside parks during the mid to late 1930’s with depression era labor and style – meaning a lot of hand work with native stone. Some 35 of those early parks still exist,(mostly in east Texas) and it looks like TxDOT is going to make an effort to maintain those historical locations. Again, I will write more about that soon.