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Fort Worth Flashback: Lake Worth was built to provide drinking water, recreation

Posted June 11, 2012

boat

The City of Fort Worth constructed Lake Worth in 1914 as a municipal water supply reservoir and for recreation. Lake Worth, comprised of more than 3,700 acres, was the first manmade reservoir in Texas.

From the start, Lake Worth was a center of activity, with people from all over North Texas visiting the lake.

During the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps was active around the lake, and remnants of the Corps’ projects can still be found. Much of the lake’s original access road, Meandering Road, still exists today.

Small fishing cottages proliferated around Lake Worth on land leased from the city, which owned the entire lakefront and significant acreage beyond. Casino Beach Park on the north side of the lake became the site of a popular amusement park and a large dance hall. Fort Worth leased the property to investors who operated the park. Casino Beach Park experienced its heyday in the 1930s and remained active through the 1950s.

Over time, some fishing cottages on the lakeshore were replaced by new residential structures. More recently, higher-end homes have been built on city-owned, leased lakeshore property or on lots that the city platted and sold.

As years passed, recreational conditions on and around the lake deteriorated, primarily due to silt and increasingly shallow lake depths. Funding for dredging the lake has consistently been an issue.

Other factors conspired to reduce the importance of Lake Worth as a recreation destination, including the lack of funding to maintain Casino Beach Park. The park structures were demolished in the early 1970s. The demise of the attractions at Casino Beach Park led to fewer visitors to Lake Worth because there was no longer a special recreation destination on the lake. Additionally, other North Texas lakes became more popular to boaters and other users.

To learn about the future of Lake Worth, review the Lake Worth Vision Plan.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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