When I moved to Dallas 5 years ago I stumbled across White Rock Lake when I began training for the White Rock Lake Marathon. Go figure, right? Over the years it has become my own little get away within the city. A quiet place where I can be alone with my thoughts and unwind! On any given day of the week many Dallasites come out to the Lake to do much of the same whether walking, running, or cycling.
This year, White Rock Lake and Ebby Halliday have something in common. Their 100th Birthday! Much like Ebby (who is also the Centennial Celebration Honorary Chairman) the Lake's party is a year long celebration. The conclusion of the party is at the end of this month with a party at The Bath House! However, White Rock Lake wasn't always such a "happening" place. In fact, in the beginning, it wasn't even a lake!
Before Dallas County was even a county the land where White Rock Lake now stands was a tree lined valley in which Native Americans hunted bison! Crazy, huh? It wasn't until the 1840's that settlers started home steads around the valley; the names of which you might recognize. (Cox, Dixon, Humbard, McCommas and Fisher...to name a few)
After the Civil War many families moved to the area and established communities that surrounded the valley. Egypt (yep, we had one of those in Texas at one point too) was on what is now the northeastern shore of The Lake, Fisher on the northwest side, and Reinhardt (roughly where what is now the Casa Linda area). In the 1890's a Swiss immigrant, Jacob Buhrer, started a dairy farm, most of which is now below the present day Lake.
So by now you have either quit reading or are wondering why a Lake. One word. WATER! Dallas was growing and without an abundance of water in sight a reservoir was needed. By 1914, White Rock was declared full and although it was not built with recreation in mind, Dallasites quickly discovered a great place for outdoor recreation. Fishing, boating, camping and hunting were among the first activities at the Lake. Yep, hunting! Hey, it's Texas!
*It was also during this time that the road around the lake was constructed by order of the mayor Joe E. Lawther.
In the early '20's a new reservoir was constructed (what is now Lake Lewisville) and White Rock Lake became a city park.