Thursday, June 9, 2016

Those Places Thursday: Choke Canyon Reservoir and State Park

At the time the Choke Canyon Dam was finished, I was working for the Information Services (public information) Office for the City of Corpus Christi, Texas.  One of our functions was producing a periodic newsletter about the construction of the dam.  I was only around for the one of those newsletters - which might also have been the last one.  Since I had previously worked for the city's Park and Recreation Department as well as for Texas Parks and Wildlife, I was assigned to write the articles pertaining to the new state park being established on Choke Canyon Reservoir.  The photos below are ones that I took for Volume 7, Number 1 of Headway, published in June 1982 by the City of Corpus Christi.

At the time, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's master plan for Choke Canyon State Park called for reusing some of the buildings in the old Calliham townsite.  The rock gymnasium from the high school has been renovated into an air-conditioned rental facility that still includes a stage, basketball court, and bleachers.

Above:  Original caption from page 8 of the newsletter:  The rock gymnasium at Old Calliham will again be used for community activities.

Below:  Original caption from page 7 of the newsletter:  This stone house at Old Calliham will play a major role in recreational development at that location (note:  I believe it is a staff residence now).

Plans also called for using two houses in the old townsite as park residences, for the superintendent and park rangers.  The park map does show two such residences in the old townsite area, but I'm not totally sure if the one pictured above is one of them.  The first park manager, Jeff Parrish, and his family lived in the townsite in the house formerly occupied by the town's school teacher.  That could be the picture above, or it might be the Harbor House, which was supposedly slated to be the park superintendent's home.  Most of the original townsite of Calliham is now underwater.

Tarleton State University history professor T. Lindsay Baker wrote about the history of Calliham in his 1986 book, Ghost Towns of Texas.

Boat ramps, of course, needed to be bult about the time the dam was being completed, as they would be mostly underwater as the lake filled.

Left:  Original caption from page 7 of the newsletter:  Concrete work on boat ramps is part of recreation construction already underway.

Below:  Original caption from page 3 of the newsletter:  Boat ramps were the first recreational facilities to be constructed at Choke Canyon....a worker roughens a concrete surface.

The dedication ceremony for Choke Canyon Dam was held just over 34 years ago, on June 8, 1972.  The event, held at 11 AM, involved the closing of the seven gates on the spillway, and of course speeches, including one by then-mayor Luther Jones written by then-city manager Marvin Townsend.  A barbeque followed the ceremony.

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.

No comments:

Post a Comment