Title: White Rock Lake Book Review
Author: Michael V. Hazel
Publisher: Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas
When George Kessler created the first City Plan for Dallas in 1911, he envisioned the newly built White Rock Lake and its surrounding terrain as a local version of New York's Central Park. Since the lake was designed as a water reservoir and was located on the far eastern fringes of Dallas, Kessler's proposal may have struck some as far-fetched. But development long ago overtook the area, making the site "central" for many area residents. And today, with more than 2,100 acres, White Rock Lake Park is by far the largest in the city's park system. It also has a devoted constituency, with some 3,500 volunteers (members of a support organization called For the Love of the Lake) assisting with regular dean-up operations and providing amenities ranging from new trash receptacles to water fountains and benches. Meanwhile, the Park and Recreation Department has overseen projects to restore historic structures throughout the park, including many fabricated by workers of the Civilian Conservation Corps (Ccq during the 1930s. Now Sally Rodriguez, a 29-year-veteran of the Park Department, has compiled some 200 historic photographs documenting the history of the lake itself and the parkland surrounding it in a new book published by Arcadia in its ongoing series devoted to American cities. Her book is certainly one of the best of those related to Dallas. Rodriguez has kept text minimal, allowing the photographs and their captions to tell the story. Early photos depict construction of the dam that created the lake where dairy farms once stood. Other photos show the ramshackle fishing huts that dotted the shoreline in the 1920s and '30s, before increased public use of the park led to a ban on private structures. Much of the park as we know it today is the legacy of the CCC, young men who built picnic tables, shelters, and bridges in a style sometimes called "National Park Service Rustic." These Great Depression-era workers lived in barracks on the east side of the lake, under quasi-military discipline. When the United Stated entered World War II, the CCC men were drafted. Their barracks were later used by German prisoners of war, veterans of Rommel's Africa campaign, who had to build their own fence and guard towers. And still later, the barracks housed returning U. S. Veterans enrolled at SMU, which was overwhelmed by the post-war enrollment boom and didn't have sufficient dorm space. Meanwhile, White Rock Lake Park had become "a people's playground," a popular site for picnics, romantic dates, and swimming during the sunm1er. Rodriguez includes a number of photos loaned by private individuals of such carefree activities. Also interesting are photos of private concessions, such as Sunset Inn, operated for several years in the 1940s by the widow of a former park superintendent. Even a menu is included. She also includes a number of aerial photographs and maps, all of which help orient the reader to the layout of the park and its gradual development. One learns, for instance, that the northern boundary of White Rock Lake was once Northwest Highway, but that decades of silting have reduced it to Mockingbird. Photos of flooding and droughts document the impact on the lake of rain, or the lack thereof. Today concern to preserve the park's history while nurturing its flora and fauna is stronger than ever. With reduced mowing to encourage native vegetation, wildlife has actually increased. Rodriguez's book enhances our appreciation for this valuable regional asset by setting it in the context of its rich and colorful history.
Title: Booking History
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Lake Highlands
Sally Rodriguez knows a thing or two about White Rock Lake and its history.
The Dallas Park and Recreation Department project coordinator and unofficial historian collected her knowledge and put it in a book, titled "White Rock Lake," which came out Feb. 1.
The publisher -- Arcadia Publishing out of South Carolina, which publishes books on local histories -- contacted
Rodriguez based on the depth of her historical knowledge of the lake, its creation, and the various roles it's played in Dallas and U.S. history.
Rodriguez, a Lake Highlands resident, began amassing information about the lake in 2001 when the park department was in the throes of its Renaissance Plan, and she worked with historical architects on renovations to some of the city's older landmarks.
She later was contacted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for its efforts to conduct a reunion at White Rock of surviving members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public works and relief project under a New Deal recovery act after the Great Depression.
"When I started at City Hall, I just started looking in closets and found all these historical documents," Rodriguez said. "Most of the information and photos are in the municipal archives."
The new book relies heavily on a pictorial history of the lake. She collected more than 200 images that now adorn the pages of the book.
She chronicles its genesis as a city water source under control of the Dallas Water Department and its use as a major development site for CCC workers.
When World War II broke out the CCC force moved to the military, and its barracks at White Rock became housing for soldiers with sexually transmitted diseases, Rodriguez said. It then converted to a military ferry depot before its stint as a prisoner of war camp for captured Nazi
The lake later became a recreational site for the region, and Rodriquez said she was surprised to learn of some of the activities.
"I think I was most surprised at finding out about the speedboat races. I grew up around here and went to the submarine races," she said with a laugh.
The book also contains information about the Pea Patch, which operated as a city jail once located on the west side of the lake until 1935. It includes details of the escalating use of filtration measures to clean the drinking water for Dallas residents and, after it became a public recreational site, to chlorinate the water for swimmers.
"The city staff would go out in boats and dump chlorine in the swimming area outside the Bath House before they started pumping it in from the Bath House," Rodriquez said.
The book, $21.99, is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders Books, and the Dallas Arboretum gift shop as well as the Arcadia Web site and Amazon.com.
Rodriguez has three signings set starting with 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Feb. 13, at Dixie House; followed by 1-3 p.m., Feb. 20, at the Borders Greenville Avenue-Lovers Lane location; and 11 a.m.-1 p.m., March 6, at Borders in Lincoln Park, across from NorthPark Center. She also addresses the
Exchange Club of East Dallas during its lunch meeting Feb. 17 at Lakewood Country Club.
All royalties from the book go to the Dallas Park Foundation to help fund the lake's centennial commemoration in 2011.
"White Rock is a unique part of people's lives," Rodriguez said. "The history of the lake is intertwined with the history of people's lives."
Title: Beloved Puddle
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: D Magazine
Date: February 2010
It's only about 15 feet deep. It's no Lake Michigan. But we cherish our humble urban oasis. A new book celebrates 100 years of White Rock Lake.
In 1909, city leaders realized they needed a water source for dallas' growing population. They honed in on White Rock Creek. Two years later, a little creek 10 miles east of Dallas was primped and primed and ready to become a lake. But a drought would cause a three-year gap between the completion of the dam and the filling of the lake. On April 14, 1914, White Rock Lake became official with a total of 42 inches of water over the spillway. The lake continues to be a wellspring of entertainment and an escape for Dallas residents. Images of America, White Rock Lake, by Sally Rodriguez, out this month, chronicles the creation and growth of our urban oasis. All images are reprinted with permission from the publisher. The book is available online at arcadiapublishing.com or by calling 888-313-2665.