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April 20, 2010
New Cabins Underway at Possum Kingdom State Park
CADDO — One of Texas’ most scenic and popular water-sport parks will soon boast two new rustic-style cabins to meet the eager demand of year-round visitors. Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently replacing two dilapidated Possum Kingdom cabins built shortly after World War II. The new cabins, to be completed this fall, will have increased space and amenities, be more fire resistant and meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
"The cabins we had were built back in the late 1940s," says long-time Park Superintendent Rocky Holland. "They were not ADA accessible: There was no such thing. These replace two old cabins that were in need of repair.
"The new cabins will be a mixture of stone, Hardie Plank siding and some wood," adds Holland. "They won’t look exactly like the old ones, but they are made to fit into their natural surroundings and blend in with the others so they won’t stick out like a sore thumb." The new cabins, at around 1,000 square feet, are about 300 square feet larger than most of the older cabins. They will have central air and heat, and a separate bedroom and bathroom.
Like the parks’ five older cabins, they will seldom be idle.
"Our cabins are very popular," Holland says. "This time of year (spring) we are pretty busy on the weekends. Once school lets out the last of May, it’s Katy bar the door. The (current) cabins are booked up for the summer as we speak."
In winter months, when the park is less busy, the seven cabins, four with fireplaces, offer a cozy alternative to camping. Of course, many visitors come in their own trailers and RVs. About half of the parks’ 116 campsites include electricity and water.
Possum Kingdom’s new cabins are another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at making the parks more fun, safer and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The budgeted cost for rebuilding the two Possum Kingdom cabins is approximately $676,000.
The majority of the funding for the various repair projects comes from the sale of Proposition 4 general obligation bonds overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2007. In addition to snazzing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds also provide $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Possum Kingdom State Park, which hosts about 50,000 visitors annually, offers the remote escape so popular with state park users. Yet it is just a short drive from the urban centers of Fort Worth-Dallas, Wichita Falls and Abilene. The county seat of Palo Pinto is about 43 miles away.
Beautiful water is Possum Kingdom State Park’s overwhelming lure and there’s plenty of it. The 1,528-acre park has several miles of shoreline along 20,000-acre Lake Possum Kingdom. The lake features some of the clearest and bluest water found in the Southwest thanks to its high salinity, making the park ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and scuba diving.
"The park pretty well sells itself in the summer time," Holland says. "People just flock to it because of the lake."
Making it all picture-perfect, the surrounding shores often consist of tall, rugged, massive-block limestone cliffs, topped by juniper and mesquite. Views of the majestic cliffs from the lake, and alternately, of the clear blue water from the shore, make this one very photogenic park.
"On the hiking trail there are some huge rocks you can climb up and look down on the park and the lake" says park office manager Jan Echols. "It makes for some really pretty scenery."
The lake, formed in the rocky canyons of the Palo Pinto Mountains — actually a series of high hills — is unusually deep, more than 100 feet in some places, which makes it especially exciting for divers.
"It is good habitat for black bass," Holland adds. "There is a lot of shoreline. The most popular fishing is for stripers, black bass and crappie".
Fishing for park visitors doesn’t have to be expensive either. As long as the fishing is from the shore, no fishing license is required inside the state park. Boating anglers, of course, need a fishing license.
Possum Kingdom Lake was formed by a dam started in the late 1930s and completed in 1941. Park land was deeded by the Brazos River Authority. Early access roads were started by the Civilian Conservation Corps, but World War II ended the CCC. All major park work was completed after the war and the park opened in 1950.
With no shopping within 30 miles, it is fortunate that the park has the small but well-stocked Possum Kingdom State Park Store and Marina. There visitors find most of their ‘Oops, I forgot" items, rent boats and get fishing and water necessities.
For more information, contact Possum Kingdom State Park at 940-549-1803. Or visit the park website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/possum_kingdom/
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