Christmas in Cleburne

We traveled a little more than an hour to Cleburne State Park for our Heart of Texas Camping (HOTC) Unit’s annual holiday camp-out.

Although relatively small – a little more than 500 acres – the park surrounds a 116-acre spring-fed lake. The area’s dense woods and clear water springs made it a popular hunting area, particularly for members of the Comanche tribe, and, later, a campsite for cowboys driving their cattle along the Chisholm Trail. In 1934, a group of local business leaders secured the valley for a state park and, in 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) moved in to begin its design and development.

Like other CCC parks, Cleburne State Park was inspired by the landscape and history of Texas. In addition to a small earthen dam and a three-level masonry spillway on the lake, workers built a 3-mile scenic roadway around the lake, a boathouse, a bathhouse, and a concessions building. A few remnants of these early structures remain, reminding visitors of the original stonework and architecure that was meant to harmonize with nature, as well as the hand-crafted details that characterized 1930’s-era CCC projects.

Our campsite was situated along a lovely creek, directly beneath a juniper tree. The smell of pine was pervasive, and an interior battle between juniper berries and light-colored laminate flooring raged throughout the weekend. We enjoyed meeting many friends, making a few new ones, and reacquainting ourselves with folks we met at last year’s holiday camp-out.

The HOTC Unit is made up of some great camp cooks, as well as an array of personalities who guarantee a good time (and good food) will be had by all. Although Cliff didn’t take home the Aluminum Chef trophy for his sweet potato pie (the judges favored a malanga root dip), he’s determined to find a way to emerge victorious at next year’s competition.