Parks for Texas - Texas Governors Series LbNA # 32842
|Placed Date||Jul 9 2007|
|Last Found||Jul 18 2013|
Patrick Morris Neff was the 28th governor of Texas In 1920, Texas voters went to the polls and elected the first governor and legislature to be heavily influenced by the progressive movement. As events would demonstrate, Governor Pat Neff proved to have a deeper commitment to the Texas outdoors than any politician the state had ever produced. This In spite of the fact that he was a bookish, brilliant attorney who had gained his reputation as a merciless prosecutor, and whose detractors hooted that the reform-minded governor had “never fired a gun or baited a hook. 1923 he persuaded the legislature to create the State Parks Board. He later regarded this action as his most important achievement as governor. But Neff’s vision couldn’t have been more different than the Rooseveltian impulse that spurred the creation of the national parks. Neff was less interested in purple mountains majesty than in building campgrounds for Texans who, like himself, loved to travel by automobile. In days of old, travelers simply camped out in any inviting spot they happened to find at day’s end. A system that had worked fine when travel was difficult and most people never ventured more than a few miles from their homes was breaking down under the overwhelming numbers now zipping around the state by car. In a 1925 speech, Neff notes that “pioneers have rarely recognized the value of play”, but a parks system would afford a place where people “might go and forget the anxiety and strife and vexation of life’s daily grind”. Neff reported that in the course of one year, he and the Parks Board traveled over 8000 miles to promote the state parks concept and received in donations 52 tracts of land. To develop the donations into usable parks, he asked the legislature for $50,000—which he did not get. Although there were parks as early as 1905 that were owned by the state of Texas, notably the San Jacinto battleground site, there was no park system to administer and preserve the parks. Pat Neff’s mother donated 6 acres to the state for a park in 1915. She died in 1921, the year he took office as governor. His campaign for governor was based on the slogan “Parks for Texas”. As head of the state parks board in the 1930’s, Neff named the land that his mother had donated “Mother Neff State Park” in her honor and donated the rest of the land that the park sits on today.
This letterbox is located in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. To get there from I-35, take Exit 335A and turn east onto S. University Parks Dr. Go to La Salle Ave. (Hwy. 77) and turn right. When you get to S. 5th St., turn left and drive into the cemetery. Inside the cemetery, this street is called Lacy St. This street is apparently a short-cut through the cemetery and there was a lot of traffic when we were here, so be discreet.
To the box:
As you enter the cemetery on Lacy St., turn right immediately onto Moore St. for one block, then left onto Ross St. Continue on Ross St. until it dead-ends into Gurley Lane. You’ll see the large white grave marker in front of you with the name Neff in large letters. Park and walk to the marker. Turn your back to the marker and walk back across Gurley Lane to the pair of large cedar trees on the corner to your right. The box is in a hole at the conjunction of the two trees, covered with sticks. To insure that the box remains for the next finder, please replace and recover the box well.