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The Sun Sets on Fort Parker
Copyright: - Texas State Parks & Historical Sites
The Sun Sets on Fort Parker
Description - Fort Parker State Park includes 1458.8 acres (758.8 land acres and a 700-acre lake); between Mexia and Groesbeck, in Limestone County. It was opened to the public in 1941.

The State Park was created in 1935 on land donated by the City of Mexia and three local landowners. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed all the recreational facilities in the late 1930s, and built a dam across the Navasota River in 1939, creating Fort Parker Lake.

The park was named for Fort Parker, a nearby historic settlement established in 1833, and the site of the well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, during which Cynthia Ann Parker was captured. During captivity, Cynthia Ann became the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker. The old fort was reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a 1936 centennial project.

The parklands encompass the historic town of Springfield. Springfield was established in 1838, and when Limestone County was created in 1847, the community became the first county seat. Springfield began to die in the early 1870s, after the railroad by-passed the town and the courthouse burned. The county seat was moved to Groesbeck in 1873, the post office closed in 1878, and Springfield soon became a ghost town. Only the cemetery remains, the last resting place of many East Texas pioneers, including an American Revolutionary War veteran and two veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.

Attractions - Fort Parker State Park has a wonderful wildflower display that, depending on the species, begins blooming around early March and continues until around June. As you enter the park both sides of Park Road 28 have blooms of Indian blanket, Diamond petal primrose, Texas bluebonnet, Standing cypress (in early summer), Evening primrose, Winecup, and Bullnettle. The Headquarters building has Baby blue eyes, Erect dayflower, Turk's cap, Blue salvia, Texas bluebonnet, and Horsemint. The picnic area has Ladies tresses(in the fall), baby blue eyes, Erect dayflower, and Evening primrose. The camping area has Turk's cap. Fort Parker State Park planted a Native Prairie Demonstration Site near the dump station. It is located across from historic Springfield Cemetery about .3 miles down the park road from the headquarters. It is planted with native grasses and wildflowers that grow in this particular region and soils. Wildflowers in the Native Prairie Demonstration Site include Texas bluebonnet, vetch, Partridge pea, Prairie larkspur, and Baby blue eyes. Also frequently seen in the park are bluebird, duck, heron, migratory waterfowl, coyote, raccoon, squirrel, and bobcat. Popular fish include crappie, bass, catfish, and trout in season.

Facilities include restrooms with and without showers; picnic sites; a group picnic pavilion; tables grouped in several areas; campsites with water and electricity; screened shelters; four winterized screened shelters (November through March); a group camp with 4 barracks and a dining hall (a total of 9 buildings which sleep 96 - all heated, 2 air-conditioned); a group recreation hall (activity center) that is heated and air-conditioned, has tables and chairs for 50, a stove top, and a refrigerator; a sponsored youth group camping area; a convenience store within 1/4 mile; a boat ramp; a boat dock; a 1-mile, multi-use trail for hiking and mountain bike riding; lake fishing pier; fish-cleaning facilities; playground(near the picnic area), baseball/softball field; and a trailer dump station. Canoes and paddle boats are rented year-round from the Texas State Park Store.

Nearby points of interest include Old Fort Parker State Historical Park, a replica of a fort erected in 1833 by Elder John Parker and other settlers from Illinois for protection from Indians; Confederate Reunion Grounds State Historical Park; and Fairfield Lake State Park.

Camping and entrance fees vary. For reservations call 512/389-8900. Current conditions including fire bans and water levels can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Recreation - Fort Parker offers camping, picnicking, swimming in an unsupervised swimming area, fishing, birdwatching, hiking, biking, canoeing, nature study,baseball/softball, and paddle boating. The canoe trip from Confederate Reunion Grounds to Fort Parker is a 3-mile trip on the Navasota River. Canoes will be shuttled to the Confederate Reunion Grounds at 10:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays only. Canoes can be reserved for this trip by calling 254-562-5751. Canoe rental for the trip is a 4 hour minimum rental. All other times are first come first served.

The Friends of Fort Parker, an outstanding park-support organization, operate boat tours of Lake Fort Parker. Weekend tours are Saturday at 10 a. m. and 2 p. m. and Sunday at 2 p. m. Contact the park for lake level/conditions and a current schedule.

Climate - Fort Parker State Park is located at an elevation of 534 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average July high of 95 degrees with a SE breeze and a January average low of 34 degrees. There is low humidity year-round with May and September wettest months. The first/last freeze are November 26 / March 15. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Location - The park is located, 7 miles south of Mexia or 6 miles north of Groesbeck on State Highway 14; entrance is on Park Road 28.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Jacob Simms (age 7)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: You can rent canoes and paddle boats! There is a new nature trail to walk on. Saw fish jumping there, they have Trout here, too! A great place to camp, you can camp in a 'camping trailer' (camper) or in a tent, they have covered buildings you can rent too! Just down the road is Old Fort Parker: It's a REAL cowboy Fort!! Just like the toy ones, but it's REAL!! They have old cabins there, and I saw a real cowboy too! There is a tree tunnel you drive through up to the fort, too.

Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: small park, store closed, nice hiking trail, not bad.

More Information

Contact Information:
Fort Parker State Park, RR3, Box 95 , Mexia, TX, 76667, Phone: 254/562-5751
, fortparker@glade.net

Additional Information:
Prairies & Lakes - The Prairies and Lakes region covers a large portion of northeast and central Texas, including the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This region features numerous large lakes and more state parks than any other region in the state.
Texas State Parks - Texas State Parks occupy more than 500,000 acres of pristine ecosystems, historical sites and facilities. The state parks, state natural areas and state historic sites are scattered throughout Texas.

Campground Reservations - Reserve your campground online here with reserveamerica.com
Texas State Parks - Official Agency Website


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