In 1907, city officials began to acquire land
in the White Rock Valley for a future reservoir that would be larger than
Bachman's Lake, the former major source of water for the area. In 1913,
the first water from the reservoir was pumped into the Dallas mains and
the following year, the lake was formally declared to be full.
Following the Civil War, Freedmen
and their families established a community named Egypt on what is
now the northeastern shore of White Rock Lake. There, in addition
to their homes, they had a church, a school, and a cemetery. They
all no longer exist.
Another nearby community was Calhoun, later named Fisher, on the
northwestern side of the present-day lake. It too is gone but its
name survives in Fisher Road, which still runs down to the edge
of White Rock Lake.
The community of Reinhardt sprang up alongside
railroad tracks near the present-day Casa Linda Shopping Center.
Like the town of Fisher, Reinhardt was eventually absorbed by the
growing city of Dallas. It's name survives only in an elementary
school that stands near the former center of the town. As Dallas
began to grow in population during the late 1890s and early 1900s
water started to become a problem.
Although it was not built with recreation in mind,
the locals quickly discovered that the new reservoir and the land surrounding
it was an ideal place for outdoor sports. Anticipating the popularity
of the newly-proposed park, an anonymous newspaper reporter predicted
it would quickly become "The People's Playground." The first permanent lakeside amenities were constructed
by the City of Dallas in 1930: A Bath House and Bathing Beach on the eastern
shore and a municipal boathouse with berths for 36 speedboats on the western
In 1933, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Works Progress Administration
(WPA), two other "New Deal" federal agencies, also made contributions
to the infrastructure of White Rock Lake Park. It appears that the men
employed by the short-lived CWA were used primarily for the purpose of
picking up trash around the park or landscaping projects. The WPA's contributions
were more visible and lasting. Two bridges funded by the federal agency
between 1935 and 1937, one on either side of the lake, are still in use
today.After World War Two began, the Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was turned over the the Army Air Corps'
Fifth Ferrying Command, which used the site as an induction center and
"boot camp" for nearly two years. In 1944, the CCC camp got
a new lease on life as a Prisoner-of-War camp for German non-combatants
captured in the North Africa campaign. During their incarceration at White
Rock, they worked nights at Fair Park repairing army equipment. At war's
end, they were repatriated to their "fatherland."
During the 1930s, 1940s, and into the 1950s, White
Rock Lake Park lived up to its designation as "The People's Playground."
Dallas was smaller then (in both land size and population) and White Rock
was literally a day's outing in the countryside.For a brief period of
time in the 1930s, there was a dance pavilion beside the bathhouse, where
couples could take to the dance floor and enjoy the music of Babe Lowry
and her all-female band, the "Rhythm Sweethearts."Monday, September
1, 1952 was the last day the bathing beach was open. The following year,
during a drought, White Rock Lake was put back in service (temporarily)
as a a water supply and swimming was banned. In the meantime, fueled in
part by fears of potential racial conflict, the City of Dallas embarked
on a program of building smaller, neighborhood pools. The beach at White
Rock was never re-opened and the ban on swimming is still in force to
The above material and information was taken from An Unofficial Guide to Scenic White Rock Lake, courtesy Steven Butler.
Sources: Watermelon kid.com , related article
||The ghost of a woman in a white
evening gown dripping with water has terrorized residents here for
During the 1920's, White Rock Lake was a popular recreation spot.
A Dallas man, some say a bootlegger, and his lady had been enjoying
an evening on his boat and on this occasion, the party was formal
so they were both in evening dress. During that evening they had a
severe argument and when the boat docked, the lady ran from the deck,
jumped into the man's car and drove off. The roads around the lake
were quite poor at the time and the lady was probably intoxicated.
As she approached the area where Lawther drive
now joins Garland road, she lost control of the car and it plunged into
the lake. The lady died in the accident. Her ghost is said to have two
ways of manifesting itself.
The most common is to appear as a hitch-hiker along Garland road where
it passes the lake. The spirit materializes as a pretty girl in an evening
dress, drenched to the skin. She gives a certain address, quite fashionable
in the twenties, then disappears, leaving a wet seat. The lady has been
known to leave her wrap in the car and this is said to bear a 1920's style
"Neiman Marcus Label".
The other manifestation is in the form of an emergency
phone call, always delivered on the front porch of homes along Garland
road, facing the lake. In September 1962, Dale Berry answered the doorbell
twice to find no one there. On the third ring, he opened the door to see
the screaming apparition, who disappeared, leaving behind only a puddle
of water. The ghost also often appears to young couples parked in cars
along deserted roads.
A woman named Anne Clark wrote
what may be the earliest published account of the legend. Titled
"The Ghost of White Rock," Clark's brief story was included
in the Texas Folklore Society's 1943 publication, Backwoods to Border.
One hot July night a young city couple,
having driven out and parked on the shore of White Rock Lake, switched
on the headlights of the car and saw a white figure approaching.
As the figure came straight to the driver's window, they saw it
was a young girl dressed in a sheer white dress that was dripping
wet. She spoke in a somewhat faltering voice.
I'm sorry to intrude, and I would not under
any other circumstances, but I must find a way home immediately.
I was in a boat that overturned. The others are safe. But I must
She climbed into the rumble seat, saying
that she did not wish to get the young lady wet, and gave them an
address in Oak Cliff, on the opposite side of Dallas. The young
couple felt an uneasiness concerning their strange passenger, and
as they neared the destination the girl, to avoid hunting the address,
turned to the rumble seat to ask directions. The rumble seat was
empty, but still wet.
After a brief, futile search for the girl
in white, the couple went to the address she had given and were
met at the door by a man whose face showed lines of worry. When
he had heard the couple's story, the man replied in a troubled voice.
"This is a very strange thing. You are the third couple who
has come to me with this story. Three weeks ago, while sailing on
White Rock Lake, my daughter was drowned."
In 1953 a similar but much more detailed account
was included in Dallas author Frank X. Tolbert's book, Neiman-Marcus,
Texas: The Story of the Proud Dallas Store:
One night about ten years ago a beautiful blonde
girl ghost appeared on a road near Dallas' White Rock Lake.
Mr. and Mrs. Guy Malloy, directors for display for the world-famous specialty
store, Neiman-Marcus, saw the girl. Only they didn't recognize her, right
off, for a ghost. She had walked up from the beach. And she stood there
in the headlights of the slow-moving Malloy car. Mrs. Malloy said, "Stop,
Guy. That girl seems in trouble. She must have fallen in the lake. Her
dress is wet. Yet you can tell that it is a very fine dress. She certainly
got it at the Store."
By "the Store," Mrs. Malloy meant the
Neiman-Marcus Company of Dallas.
The girl spoke in a friendly, cultured contralto to the couple after the
car had stopped. She said she'd like to be taken to an address on Gaston
Avenue in the nearby Lakewood section. It was an emergency she said. She
didn't explain what had happened to her, and the Malloys were too polite
to ask. She had long hair, which was beginning to dry in the night breeze.
And Mrs. Malloy was now sure that this girl was wearing a Neiman-Marcus
dress. She was very gracious as she slipped by Mrs. Malloy and got in
the back seat of the two-door sedan.
When the car started, Mrs. Malloy turned to converse
with the passenger in the Neiman-Marcus gown. The girl had vanished. There
was a damp spot on the back seat.
The Malloys went to the address on Gaston Avenue. A middle-aged man answered
the door. Yes, he had a daughter with long blonde hair who wore nothing
but Neiman-Marcus clothes. She had been drowned about two years before
when she fell off a pier at White Rock Lake.
A photo of the
area along Garland Road where we picked up a strong EMF reading.
This "mist" was not visible to the naked eye.
|Finally, we're able
to get to the lake without having Buck getting us lost. We drove around
the lake's eastern perimeter until we came to a small park like area
where we pulled over to take a few shots of the lake for the record.
It really is quite beautiful, especially at night, and quite large
too. Get any decent size map of Dallas and it is plainly visible.
It also has quite a few docks with all sorts of boats docked on or
Now since our "lady" likes to hitch-hike and we know
the road that she prefers, we hopped back in the car and proceeded
to the intersection of Garland road and Lawther. Along the way,
Buck started getting a little twitchy and we developed a little
technique to allow us to cover allot more ground. Simply put..we
would hold the EMF detector out of the window and stop the car if
we got any kind of promising reading. Well..we had a few stops,
but nothing worth following up on.
Finally, we reached the intersection. There is a small road with
turns into the "park" which borders the lake here. Really
handy, as it gave us a place to pull over and take a look. Just
as Buck was about to pull the car over, I took a reading and the
EMF pegged out at that "special" range of 8 to 10 milligauss
(that suspect ghost indication). However, it stalled out after a
few seconds. The lake was to our left, concealed by a line of tall
trees, but one lone tree stood about 30 feet or so from the car.
It's sort of hard to explain but all of us had a odd feeling about
that tree, so I got out and walked over to it to see if there would
be any change in the EMF readings. When I got about 10 feet from
it, the EMF once again indicated a suspect field, so I called Buck
over to have a look. No sooner than he had gotten there, our field
started to move, slowly, back towards Garland road.
By now, Buck had alerted Sionnan and Lisa,
who were on their way to join us. By now, the "field"
had crossed the road that we were parked on and headed straight
for the road. Not good, as power lines bordered it, and those nasty
power lines interfere with the readings of our EMF meters. We tried
to lock back onto our little suspect, but she was moving around
and the interference wasn't helping any either. Eventually, we decided
to go back to the lake and take another look there. It's quite possible
that if that "field" was our ghost, she would have probably
noticed that we didn't have any room for her in the car, so she
decided to go and wait for someone else to pick her up. Once back
at the lake, we decided to check out some off the docks before heading
off to the cemetery near the lake where, according to the urban
myth, the "lady" is buried. Strange, we were getting all
sorts of fluctuating readings while on those docks. Buck thinks
that this might be due to all of the people who have either drown
here or had their bodies dumped during all of the violence of the
the area along the docks for odd EMF fields.
Another odd "mist"
captured on film on the docks. This photo was taken on a dock, looking
out along the shoreline towards another dock.
The biggest problem with this site is
it's size. Very large sweeps are required which makes it time consuming.
However, there does
appear that there is sufficient evidence in the strange EM fields that
we encountered to warrant a more detailed search of the area. we obtained
two unusual pictures during this ghost hunt but both are unsustainable.
The next issue concerns whether the lake
is actually haunted or is it an urban legend?
A Dallas author reported that the "Lady
of the Lake" has been seen, not in a Neiman-Marcus dress but in a
flowing negligee and that she is believed to be the ghost of a despondent
young woman who committed suicide by drowning herself in the reservoir.
This begs the question: Has anyone ever
died in such a way at this particular lake? an answer lies in a story
by Dallas Times Herald.
On Friday, July 5, 1935, Mrs. Frank Doyle found
a suicide note left by her sister, Louise Ford Davis, who resided at the
Melrose Court Hotel. Mrs. Doyle immediately alerted the police, who sent
seven squad cars racing to White Rock Lake, in hopes of preventing a tragedy.
But they were too late. "Detective Bryan," reported the Daily
Dallas Times Herald, "who was driving along the Garland road, turned
on to the lake road [East Lawther Drive] and shortly afterward saw Mrs.
Davis' head bobbing in the water."
"It was estimated," reported the paper, "that she had been
in the lake five minutes when he [Detective Bryan] dragged her to shore."
Although artificial respiration was employed in an attempt to revive Mrs.
Davis, it was in vain and police remarked that if they had been called
only "two or three minutes sooner," they might have saved her.
The woman's car was parked nearby, a reporter added, and a "sheet
and a pair of white gloves were found on the car seat." However,
there was no mention of what she was wearing and the contents of the suicide
note were not revealed. After a Saturday funeral service in Dallas, Mrs.
Davis' body was taken to Albany, Texas for burial.
On November 24, 1942, another distraught woman, 35-year-old Rose Stone
of Mansfield, Texas, also committed suicide by drowning herself in the
lake. Her body, dressed in sweater and skirt, was discovered in eight
feet of water near the municipal boathouse by Johnnie Williams, who assisted
the park superintendent and city fireman in the search. A note was pinned
to her sweater asking that relatives in Fort Worth be notified of her
death. Mrs. Stone's coat and hat were found on the shore.
The information from the newspaper is
interesting, as there have been deaths at the lake, but the description
of the ghost differs because of the clothing she is wearing. The jury
is still out on this one.