FORT PARKER STATE PARK
Fort Parker State Park includes 1458.8 acres (758.8 land acres and a 700-acre lake); between Mexia and Groesbeck, in Limestone County. It was opened to the public in 1941.
Fort Parker State Park was created in 1935 on land donated by the City of Mexia and three local landowners. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed all the recreational facilities in the late 1930s, and built a dam across the Navasota River in 1939, creating Fort Parker Lake.
The park was named for Fort Parker, a nearby historic settlement established in 1833, and the site of the well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, during which Cynthia Ann Parker was captured. During captivity, Cynthia Ann became the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker. The old fort was reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a 1936 centennial project. See Old Fort Parker.
The parklands encompass the historic town of Springfield. Springfield was established in 1838, and when Limestone County was created in 1847, the community became the first county seat. Springfield began to die in the early 1870s, after the railroad by-passed the town and the courthouse burned. The county seat was moved to Groesbeck in 1873, the post office closed in 1878, and Springfield soon became a ghost town. Only the cemetery remains, the last resting place of many East Texas pioneers, including an American Revolutionary War veteran and two veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.
Frequently seen in the park are bluebird, duck, heron, migratory waterfowl, coyote, raccoon, squirrel, and bobcat. Popular fish include crappie, bass, catfish, and trout in season.
The canoe trip from the Confederate Reunion Grounds to Fort Parker is a 3 mile trip on the Navasota River. Fort Parker State Park offers shuttle service for the canoes when prearranged. Canoes will be shuttled on Saturdays and Sundays only at 10:00 a.m., March through November. Canoe rental for the trip is a 4 hour minimum rental. Occupants will need to supply their own transportation to and from the Confederate Reunion Grounds and Fort Parker State Park. Park staff can only transport the canoes. It is approximately 5 miles to the Confederate Reunion Grounds from Fort Parker. Canoes can be reserved for this trip by calling 254-562-5751.