Mother Neff State Park is the first official state park in Texas. It is named for Mrs. Isabella Eleanor (Mother) Neff who donated six acres of land along the Leon River in 1916 which became the first park site. Her son was Texas Governor Pat M. Neff, who served as Governor from 1921 to 1925. After the death of his mother in 1921, Governor Neff created the Mother Neff Memorial Park which later became the nucleus of the Texas State Park System. The park, located west of Moody, now contains 259 acres in Coryell County. The additional land was deeded to the state in 1934 by private owners; Governor Neff deeded 250 acres and Mr. Frank Smith deeded 3 acres. The park was opened to the public in 1937.
In the 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) restored the park to its historical setting. An excavation in 1935 unearthed three Indian graves and many artifacts. During prehistoric times this area was occupied by several groups of Indians, including some groups probably related to the Tonkawas. Heavily wooded, the park is ideal for camping, hiking, picnicking, and fishing.
Nearby attractions include the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Fort Fisher Municipal Park in Waco; American Railroad Museum and Scott and White Hospital in Temple; Lake Belton; and the Grove Country Life Museum. The City of Gatesville is approximately 11 miles from the park. Gatesville has the Coryell County Museum & Historical Center which houses the Mitchell Spur Collection (a collection of over 6,000 spurs) and the Coryell County Courthouse.
To reach the park from Interstate 35, take exit 315 to State Highway 107 west to Moody; continue 6 miles west on FM 107, then take State Highway 236 for 2 miles to the park (16 miles from Interstate 35.)