Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon TX


PALO DURO CANYON STATE SCENIC PARK. Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park, in Armstrong and Randall counties twelve miles east of Canyon on Texas Highway 217, covers 16,402 acres of scenic geological strata and formations that are estimated to be several million years old…

As the Great Depression heightened in March 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the establishment of four CCC camps of about 200 men each to work in the canyon for a period of five months. The park acreage was increased to its present size to better accommodate the CCC crews, who built El Coronado Lodge and six other cabins of native stone. These buildings were designed by Guy A. Carlander, an Amarillo architect and one of the park’s leading boosters. In addition, the CCC added a water system, several bridges and concrete river crossings, and various improvements in roadways and trails. A large stone reservoir, built at the park’s north end and named for James O. Guleke, who suggested the name Goodnight Memorial Trail for the park road, was of short duration. In all, the federal government and National Park Service spent about $2 million on CCC construction. In 1936 a three-person Parks Advisory Board was set up by the State Parks Board to govern Palo Duro Park; it continued until the expiration of its term. The CCC camps remained until December 1937.”   (

Many of the park’s CCC trails and structures remain in use, and the park contains several signs about CCC history in the area (pictured below).

The Bridgton News, April 2nd, 1937 published a short article about a WPA project here.
“Fossils discovered in the Palo Duro Canyon near here may become one of the most valuable in the country according to C. Stuart Johnston, paleontologist for West Texas State Teachers College.
Ten WPA workers are unearthing the fossils. A camp building for the use of workman and paleontology will be erected. The pits were discovered two years ago.
‘These fossils represent the Pliocene Era about 5 million years ago’, said Johnston ‘we have found a great variety of animals and they help us fill in a wide gap in our pre-history.’
Fossils excavated will be assembled and displayed at the Panhandle-Plains historical society museum at Canyon. Duplicates will be shared will be shared with other museums throughout the nation.”

Source notes

2) On site information.

Bridgton News, April 2nd, 1937.

Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on December 13, 2013.

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Location Info

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Canyon, TX 79015

Coordinates: 34.9847218, -101.70138359999999

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