Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big Spring State Park

Sign at the entrance to the
Big Spring State Park
The Big Spring State Park is located in the South West part of Big Spring, TX on FM 700 (Marcy Drive for those of us that remember back that far) on the opposite side from Scenic Mountain Medical Center.

There is no entrance fee to the park although donations are accepted. It is a day-use only park that closes at sundown.  There is a sign at the entrance that lets you know when sundown will happen on the day you are there. There is a group pavilion, which can accommodate about 50 people, on top of the mountain, that can be rented out. There is a nature trail, which has a prairie dog town and informational signs that tell you what some of the vegetation is that you see while walking. Scattered around the park are benches to sit on to rest and relax. Many people walk, jog or cycle around the loop road around the top of the mountain daily. While exercising you can enjoy the view from the 200 foot bluffs that drop away from the road.

The 382 acre park was created from land deeded by the city of Big Spring in 1934. Beginning in 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the infrastructure of the park. Most of the construction material was limestone quarried on site. Some of what was constructed include the pavilion, pump house, residence, headquarters and restroom. The largest construction project was a three mile long road that goes around the top of the mountain. Limestone blocks line parts of the road as a type of guard-rail and more limestone was used to create the retaining walls of the road. The park opened in 1936.

The name 'Ale Anderson'
or maybe 'Al E. or F. Anderson'
and the date 1888
carved into the limestone
The park, as well as the city, was named for a natural spring, used for many years by Comanches, as well as other Indian groups. It was about the only watering source within 60 miles. It is believed that Spaniards may have visited the area around 1768. The first mention of the spring that was recorded is by U.S. Cavalry Captain Randolph B. Marcy in his journal on October 3, 1849. Other visitors to the area, which would become the park, included cattle drovers and immigrants moving in from other areas. Some of these people left carvings in the limestone. When I visited the site I took several pictures of names carved in the rocks. Some have dates from the late 1800's and early 1900's.

View of Big Spring from the park
The park is located at the intersection or overlap of three different ecological regions. The western Rolling Plains to the North and East, the Edwards Plateau to the south and the Southern High Plains to the East. The plant and animal life in the park include that of all three regions. The park area hasn't been used for domestic livestock grazing since the 1920s so semiarid plant life, typical of this area, is plentiful. Some of the plants found here include mesquite, prickly pear and other cacti, shin oak, red berry juniper, yucca and skunk bush sumac. Wild life, including cottontails, jackrabbits, roadrunners, snakes, ground squirrels, prairie dogs and many types of birds can be found here. There is a prairie dog town, located on the Nature Trail, soon after you enter the park.

Fossilized skeleton of a fish
in one of the limestone
blocks used to line the
roads in the park

Big Spring State Park sits on top of what is called Scenic Mountain. To some of you, from other parts of the country, it may not seem like much of a mountain, but in West Texas, It Qualifies! Scenic Mountain is part of a series of bluffs that mark the northern edge of the Edwards Plateau. Layers of Lower Cretaceous limestone form the plateau and some of that limestone was used in the creation of the park's infrastructure. Much of that limestone holds many fossilized remains of sea creatures that lived in the seas covering this area in the past. About 30 years ago I found, and photographed, what I think is a fossilized fish skeleton in one of the limestone blocks used to line the scenic road around the top of the mountain. I found it again while I was taking pictures for this blog post and it can be seen to the right.

 If you would like more information about the park you can:
Go to this Texas Parks and Wildlife page or
View this Wikepedia Entry or
Watch this video

I took many more pictures of the park, including many carved names and initials, than I could use in this blog post. If you are interested in seeing these pictures you can click here to go to my Zenfolio gallery.

If you have interesting information or stories about the park please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post.

If you have any ideas for more posts in this series be sure to leave a comment, either on the 'about' page, or at the end of any post.



  1. Hi Tony,
    Nice article on the state park. Looks good.

  2. Very interesting Tony.

  3. The construction of the park used limestone which was quarried on site. There are many quarrying sites present all over the world as granite is used for many things. It is a typical task and take lot of effort to make a beautiful piece of granite stone. I read about it many a times and got to know many interesting facts about it. For further information visit