A Guide to the David E. Colp Papers, 1917-1936
David E. Colp (1867-1936) was an automobile dealership owner, leader and secretary of the Texas Good Roads Association, and chairman of the Texas State Parks Board. He was born near Paris, Texas, and was a prominent resident of San Antonio, Texas, for many years. During Colp’s eight years as secretary of the Texas Good Roads Association, he was in charge of three large highway development projects: the Old Spanish Trail, the Meridian Highway and the Glacier to Gulf Highway.
Colp, who noticed the tourism revenue created by the national parks of the western United States, spent years of his life in efforts to improve Texas game reserves, state parks, roads, and highways. Governor Pat Neff passed a bill in 1923, which provided for the development of state parks and game reserves in Texas. Included in the bill was the formation of a five-member state parks board to serve without compensation, and he appointed Colp chairman of this board.
The new chairman worked tirelessly to build a state parks system for Texas, competing against a lack of funds and an unresponsive legislature. Colp acquired Longhorn Cavern in Burnet County, as well as a contract for its development. He went on to lead the Civilian Conservation Corps in projects for parks at Caddo Lake, Palo Duro Canyon, and the Davis Mountains, including building roads, housing, and swimming pools.
In 1934, after the legislature denied further projects, Colp mounted a campaign for emergency funds for the State Parks Board, and Governor Miriam Ferguson responded, with a one-time allotment of $25,000. Colp appropriated these funds to staff and supplies. In the fall of 1934, James Allred was elected governor, and he disliked Colp and removed him from office. The outpouring of responses from Texans, including outrage at the removal of such an influential and passionate worker, led Colp to be asked back to act as consultant. He died of influenza in 1936.
Sources: Texas State Library and Archives Commission. "To Love the Beautiful: The Story of Texas State Parks: Colp Plays Hardball." http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/exhibits/parks/ccc/page2.html (accessed June 2, 2010).
American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. "David E. Colp." http://www.aapra.org/Pugsley/ColpDavid.html (accessed June 2, 2010).
The David E. Colp Papers, 1917-1936, concern the career of Colp and relate to his efforts in the development of a state park system and a state highway system in Texas. Included in the papers are photographs and 50 maps of park sites, reservoirs, and state and national highway systems; correspondence; receipts; check stubs; note and address books; memo book; checks; bonds; clippings; legal documents; insurance policy; bank statements; articles; reports and charts; photographs; pamphlets; and literary productions.
The papers relate to the Carrington Land and Irrigation Co.; the Glacier to Gulf Motorway Association; the Meridian Highway Association; the Texas State Parks Board; and the Texas State Highway Department. Some of Colp's maps have been separated to the Map Collection, but the bulk of them remain as a significant part of his papers, as many have been annotated and relate directly to his career in parks and highways development.
Also included in the collection is sheet music for a Colp-inspired song written in Texas in the 1920s, "When Colp Pulls Texas Out of the Mud."
The collection is open for research.
David E. Colp Papers, 1917-1936, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers