Since a fire destroyed the beautiful trees in Bastrop State Park in 2011, the idea of visiting or camping at the park seemed unappealing. The fires impacted 96 percent of the park, leaving thousands of acres of burned pines. I remember what it used to look like with a unique pine-oak forest of thick, tall pine trees and ferns. Then when I heard that in 2015 a Memorial Day flood caused the dam on the 10-acre Bastrop State Park lake to fail and spill out 35 million gallons of water, I thought, how much damage to the ecosystem can one park take.
On the one hand, the park is truly scarred from a beauty standpoint. Many of the walking trails that were shady and cool are exposed. So there is just no getting around that. But, on the other hand, if one goes into the park looking for beauty, it can be found.
Burned Pines Yield Surprises
In the 1930s when many men were out of work, there were many CCC projects completed including many historic structures in the park. One was a water fountain in this park made of sandstone quarried nearby with water piped in above ground. This water fountain had not been seen in most park worker’s lifetimes, but after the fire it was discovered. There is sand in the basin of the fountain and it is obviously not in use, but it is interesting to look at.
Enduring Beauty in CCC Projects
Not far from the swimming pool in the park are picnic tables. It is interesting to contrast the durability and beauty of the picnic tables. Some were built almost a hundred years ago and the beauty is timeless. Others were build with modern-day materials. The newer tables are warped and flimsy. Disposable. Looking at the two tables made me think of how much of a back seat craftsmanship has taken to inexpensive volume production. If I had a young child I would want them to see this example of enduring beauty.
Downtown Bastrop Next to the Park
There is much to see in the park and it is worth a visit. It is located right outside the historic Bastrop district with bright holiday lights at this time of year. There are plentiful restaurants, at least one winery and movie theater within five minutes of the park. One of these days the burned pines will be a distant memory and young ones will have taken their place. The pines have grown in the area for over 18,000 years, so one fire is not going to stop 18,000 years of progression. The eco-system will be forever changed. Fortunately, the park still has plenty of sandy and gravely soils and subsurface layer of water-preserving clay to nurture the young pines. Yes the burned pines can be see everywhere, but there is beauty and emerging growth everywhere. So if you are looking for a nearby road trip, this park is only about two hours away from San Antonio, TX.