Friday, June 10, 2011

White Rock Lake - A True Dallas Star (Part 2)

In 1930, White Rock Lake became more than just a became a lake with a beach!  The Bath House (the same that stands today) was constructed along with a sand bathing beach on the east side of the lake and a boathouse was built for speed boats on the west side.  A year later a picnic shelter was built complete with stone and concrete picnic tables in the pecan grove.  These tables are still there today!

Until the 1940's more than 100 fishing cabins dotted the Lake's shoreline and Regatta's and speedboat races  were among the regularly scheduled activities.  There was also a dance pavilion beside the bathhouse as well as a floating dance pavilion and excursion boat, owned by Johnny Williams, named Bonnie Barge!

1952 was the last year the White Rock Lake Beach was open.  The summer of 1953 brought a drought in which the Lake was put back into service as a water supply and swimming was banned.  Fueled by fears of racial conflict the City of Dallas built smaller neighborhood pools and the beach was never reopened.  The ban on swimming in the lake remains in effect today.  

In 1971 the first "Run the Rock" marathon was held.  Run the Rock has become a major Dallas event over the years.  It typically starts in the Downtown area, winds its way through historic Highland Park, University Park, Lakewood, Swiss Avenue and back through Downtown.  The Marathon is capped this year at 6,000 and the Half Marathon is capped at 13,000.  Along the way are 28 sponsored bands and 28 water stops.  Many of the neighborhoods along the route also throw Marathon Watch Parties that also include their own bands.  It is a marathon that has sell out participation as well as terrific crowd support!  Remember, it was training for this marathon that I found the Lake when I first moved to Dallas!  Trust me, it's a lot of fun...and a nice "flat" course.

In 1995 a group of caring Dallasites formed For the Love of the Lake.  A grassroots effort created specifically to take care of White Rock Lake.  They have helped enhance the lake and park with projects such as picking up litter during their monthly Second Saturday Shoreline Spruce-Up events, helping to create the White Rock Lake Museum and The Celebration Tree Grove, working to restore the historic Big Thicket building and other park facilities, as well as, painting buildings and restroom murals.  Thanks to the efforts of few, many have a park to enjoy.  

From a tree lined valley, to water source, to recreation, White Rock Lake has worn many hats since its creation 100 years ago!  It truly is a a Star in Dallas and one worth celebrating this year and for many years to come!

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