Interpretive Guide of Garner State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
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INTERPRETIVE GUIDE GARNER STATE PARK Garner boasts the only CCC-constructed dance pavilion in a state park still used for dancing. ALIVE WITH TRADITION, SEVERAL GENERATIONS FREQUENT GARNER STATE PARK, SUSTAINING CUSTOMS Garner State Park leads the state in overnight camping and has since it opened in 1941. The rich cultural history of the park and its facilities, the attraction of the clear waters of the Frio River, and steep wooded canyons combine to form a very inviting setting for a great variety of park visitors. UNIQUE TO THIS PLACE. THE MOST FURTHER READING POPULAR OF THESE TRADITIONS, James Wright Steely, Parks for Texas, University of Texas Press, 1999. THE DANCE, HAS ITS ROOTS IN THE PARK’S GREAT DEPRESSION-ERA CONSTRUCTION. AN INEXPENSIVE FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT, LOCAL DANCES James Wright Steely, The CCC in Texas Parks, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1986. William W. Newcomb Jr., The Indians of Texas from Prehistoric to Modern Times, University of Texas Press, 1961. BECAME A POPULAR PASTIME OF Walter Prescott Webb, The Handbook of Texas Vol. I, II, Texas State Historical Association, 1962 THE DAY. WHEN THE PARK OPENED, The Handbook of Texas Online: www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online LOCAL BANDS PERFORMED IN THE BEAUTIFUL NATIVE LIMESTONE AND CYPRESS DANCE PAVILION. LATER, Garner State Park • HCR 70, Box 599, Concan, TX 78838 (210) 232-6132 • www.tpwd.texas.gov/garner/ A JUKE BOX REPLACED THE BANDS, AND THE TRADITIONAL DANCES CONTINUE TO THIS DAY. Proud Sponsor of Texas Parks and Wildlife Programs © 2018 TPWD. PWD BR P4507-061M (7/18) In accordance with Texas State Depository Law, this publication is available at the Texas State Publications Clearinghouse and/or Texas Depository Libraries. TPWD receives funds from the USFWS. TPWD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, and gender, pursuant to state and federal law. To request an accommodation or obtain information in an alternative format, please contact TPWD on a Text Telephone (TDD) at (512) 389-8915 or by Relay Texas at 7-1-1 or (800) 735-2989. If you believe you have been discriminated against by TPWD, please contact TPWD or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office for Diversity and Workforce Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. Texas State Parks is a division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. G A R N E R S T A T E P A R K Prehistoric Native Americans built large earth ovens of heated rock for cooking roots and tubers. cattle, hogs and goats, grew tobacco, cotton and corn, and produced tallow and hides. They harvested the local bounty of pecans, game and other resources, as had those who lived off the land before them. In the immediate vicinity of Garner State Park, the first settlers were two German immigrant families, the Magers and the Streibs. THE DRAW OF THE WATER For thousands of years the cool, clear waters of the Frio River have drawn people to its banks. Between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, prehistoric peoples came to the area attracted by an abundance of game, useful plants, and stone for making tools. The river provided a dependable source of perennial water and helped to cool the canyons, providing an inviting setting which still pulls people here. As early as the 16th century, Spanish explorers made entradas into the Americas and brought horses with them. The Comanche and Apache quickly adapted to their use, pushing all other Native American groups from the area in the 1700s. In the 1850s a trickle of Anglo settlers began making their way west of San Antonio. The lifestyle was one of self-sufficiency, and the people of the area farmed, raised CCC-constructed facilities at Garner, many still in use today, include roads, picnic tables, water fountains, a lodge, overnight cabins, and a dance pavilion. THE MAKING OF A STATE PARK As the automobile gained in popularity during the early 20th century, vacation camping became a popular pastime for many city dwellers. The cool clear waters of the river and the beauty of the canyons made this an ideal location. During the 1920s, the Magers family opened a piece of their land on the west side of the Frio River in the present location of Garner State Park, for camping. With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the nation faced a debilitating unemployment crisis. With more than half the young men under 25 years of age out of work, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide employment opportunities. The program put young men to work developing state and national parks, as well as rehabilitating forests and controlling soil erosion. Civilian Conservation Corps Company 879 constructed the park between 1935 and 1941. June 1, 1941 marked the grand opening and dedication of Garner State Park, named after former Vice President John Nance Garner, a local son. FLORA AND FAUNA L ocated on the southwestern edge of the Edwards Plateau, Garner State Park is part of a unique natural subregion known as the Balcones Canyonlands. Edwards limestone uplifted millions of years ago to an elevation of 2,000 feet, creating steep canyon walls and some of the most spectacular views in the Texas Hill Country. The canyons angle southeast to northwest, taking advantage of the southeast prevailing winds to cool and moisten the area. This allows more diverse vegetation to thrive in this arid region of Texas. The rugged terrain protects many vegetation communities, including Ashe juniper, oak and cypress, as well as a small population of endangered Tobusch fishhook cactus. All of this provides some very unique habitat for the abundance of wildlife for which the area has long been known. Populations of white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey, squirrels, and several species of migratory birds exist in the park. Endangered species of birds such as the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo (pictured above) also find a home here. Non-native, feral, and exotic species create problems in many parks. Non-native species are highly undesirable due to the competition they create with native wildlife and negative impacts on native habitats. Garner’s primary exotic, Axis deer (below), compete with the native whitetail populations for food resources.