Wait a minute didn’t my last post put Mineral Wells in Palo Pinto County? Yes, it did but the city extends slightly into neighboring Parker County and that is where the state park is. Lake Mineral Wells was built in 1922 as the town grew and outgrew its water supply wells. The lake also supplied the now defunct Fort Wolters, a Texas National Guard Base. The present park encompasses a large portion of the forts former firing and testing ranges.
Fort Wolters was the largest infantry training center during WW2. It also served as a POW camp for German soldiers.
The main feature of this park besides the lake of course is Penitentiary Hollow which I coaxed momma to hike into with me.
Penitentiary Hollow gets is name because cattle rustlers were said to corral the stolen cattle here until they had enough to drive to market. Therefore, any person caught in the hollow was likely to see the penitentiary.
Penitentiary Hollow is one of the few places in east Texas where one can hone their climbing and repelling skills. The walls are about 40 feet high.
We also got some great views of the lake from the top of the cliffs
Company 1811 of the Civilian Conservation Corps were garrisoned at Camp Wolters in 1933. Using the natural stone found in the park they built tables, fire pits, the stone steps down into Penitentiary Hollow and railings at the top of the cliffs. They also built the very nice Trailway Trading Post, the park store.
We visited the park store which was a very well stocked camp store. One of the best I’ve seen. We bought some…. you guessed it Crazy Water and lounged around by the lake for a while.
Now about that trailway The Lake Mineral Wells Trailway is a rail to trail affair. It starts in Downtown Mineral Wells and runs 20 miles to near Weatherford in Parker County. The right of way used to be the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern Railroad which ceased operations in 1992.
although I would have like to do more hiking that’s another Texas State Park off the list!