Fort Parker State Park is a Texas state park near Mexia. The city of Mexia and three local landowners donated the land creating the park in 1935. From 1935 to 1942, Civilian Conservation Corps Company 3807(C) built roads, recreational facilities, the concession building and a dam of limestone, concrete and dirt across the Navasota River, creating Lake Fort Parker. The park was dedicated by former Texas Governor Pat Neff and opened to the public in May 1941. The CCC Company also rebuilt nearby Old Fort Parker for the Texas Centennial observance in 1936. Fort Parker State Park has three hike and bike trails; Springfield trail (1.5-mile loop), Navasota River Trail (.5 mile one way) and Baines Creek Trail (2.5 miles one way). The Bur Oak Trail (.5-mile loop) is a nature trail with an interpretive guide pamphlet available. Trees in the park include Bur Oak, Water Oak, Blackjack Oak, Pecan, Eastern Red Cedar. Other plants that can be found are American Beautyberry, and sumac. Inside the park is the Old Springfield Cemetery, all that remains of the once thriving community of Springfield, Texas. Springfield was once the county seat of Limestone County and thrived during the 1840s and 1850s, but as men left for the Civil War the town’s businesses began to close. After the war, there was racial conflict and lawlessness. The railroad passed Springfield by for the towns of Mexia and Groesbeck, and the town of Springfield disappeared. The Fort Parker Nature Center is open every weekend and is a great place for kids to learn about wildlife in the park. Canoe, kayaks and paddleboats are available for rental. Day use, overnight camping, group barracks, an activity center and a picnic pavilion are all available for rent.
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