Praries & Lakes
Mother Neff Texas State Park
Mother Neff State Park Information:
This heavily wooded 259 acre park is located on the flood prone Leon River just north of Lake Belton. During prehistoric times, this parkland was occupied by several groups of Indians, including some who might have been related to the Tonkawa. In 1935, three Indian graves and many artifacts were discovered. Mother Neff State Park was the first official state park in Texas. It was named after Mrs. Isabella Eleanor (Mother) Neff who donated 6 acres of land along the Leon River to the state in 1916. After her 1921 death, her son, Texas Governor Pat M. Neff (Governor 1921-1925), created the Mother Neff Memorial Park which later became the nucleus of the Texas State Park System which was founded in 1928. In 1934, Governor Neff donated 250 acres and Mr. Frank Smith donated 3 acres for the park. The initial work on the park was completed in the 1930s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), including construction of a wood framed tabernacle, a stone concession hall (now the recreation hall), a large open sided rock tabernacle, a water/observation tower, the Indian Cave, the caretaker's house, restrooms, and drinking fountains and campsites. The park opened to the public in 1937. Park habitat consists of bottomlands, limestone cliffs and upland prairies. Thick stands of old pecan, cottonwood, sycamores, and a variety of oaks cover the river bottomlands. The prairies are being converted to their natural state by controlled burns. In the spring, the fields of waving grass and wildflowers are stunning. Wildlife includes white-tailed deer, armadillos, bobcats, amphibians and birds. Park entrance and camping fees apply. For more information read Park Brochure, and watch the Park Video.  Mother Neff State Park Facilities Map
Historic Mother Neff State Park, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“First official state park in Texas; suggested the idea for the State Parks system. Originated with a 6-acre plot willed to Texas in 1916 by Mrs. Isabella E. Neff, mother of Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas (1921-1925) Because Texas then had no state parks, Mrs. Neff stated the land was to be used for religious, fraternal, political, and educational activities. Seeing the need for more such areas, in 1923, the 39th Legislature created the State Parks Board. In 1934 Pat Neff deeded 250 acres, and other owners 3 acres, to enlarge the original tract.
Historic Civilian Conservation Corps at Mother Neff State Park, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Mother Neff State Park is built on 259 acres of land. A substantial portion of which former Texas governor Pat Neff donated in honor of his mother. He wanted a park to provide Texans with scenic beauty spots where the bees hum, the birds sing, the brooks ripple and the flowers bloom. The men of Company 817 SP-38-7 of the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this park from 1934 to 1938 under the technical supervision and leadership of superintendents, foremen, and local experienced men (LEMS). The U.S. Army provided the company with tents or barracks, food, clothing, and medical care. The CCC men worked hard at Mother Neff. They quarried stone and cut wood from the area and built many of the valuable assets in use at the park today. These include the pavilion clubhouse, lookout tower, Indian cave, caretaker's house, restrooms, drinking fountains, campsites, and many other attractions. Company 817 was one of the many 200-man companies moved to camps in often-remote areas throughout the United States during the Depression Years. Their main job was to reclaim and preserve our nation's natural resources and forests. Some men lost their lives in accidents and forest fires. We men of the CCC who reclaimed and beautified your land leave our works as our legacy to you and future generations and implore you to preserve upon our handiwork.
Leon River:
The Leon River is part of the Brazos River system. It rises at the confluence of its North, South, and Middle forks east of Eastland, Texas in northwestern Eastland County. The South Fork rises northeast of Cottonwood in southeastern Callahan County and flows northeast for twenty-five miles to its mouth on the North Fork. The North Fork rises at Cisco in northwestern Eastland County and flows northeast for eleven miles forming Lake Brelsford a mile northwest of Eastland; it also forms Lake Eastland near Eastland, Texas. The Middle Fork rises six miles west of Eastland and flows east for six miles to join the combined North and South Forks to form the Leon River proper. Lake Belton is located on the Leon River 16.7 miles upstream of the confluence of the Leon and Little Rivers. The Leon River runs southeast for 185 miles through Eastland, Comanche, Hamilton, and Coryell counties to its confluence with the Lampasas and Salado Rivers to form the Little River. The South Leon River, a tributary of the Leon, rises in extreme eastern Brown County and runs northeast across southern Comanche County to join the main stream. Communities along the Leon River include De Leon, Gustine, Proctor, Lamkin, Jonesboro, Levita, Gatesville, Fort Gates, Moody and Belton. The river is dammed to form Lake Leonseven miles south of Ranger, and Proctor Reservoir (Proctor Lake) three miles west of Proctor in Comanche County. Mother Neff State Park is located on the Leon River in Moody, Texas.  Leon River Fish Stocking History

Belton Lake Information:
The 12,385 surface acre Lake Belton is located on the Leon River in Bell and Coryell Counties. Lake boundaries extend to Mother Neff State Park in Moody, Texas. Dam construction began in January, 1949, Impounded began in March,1954. Total construction costs were $17,191,526. The lake has 136 miles of shoreline, and a maximum depth of 124 feet. The lake was created to provide flood control, water conservation and drinking water for the Belton-Temple area, to protect fish and wildlife habitat, and for general recreation purposes. Activities include scuba diving, camping, fishing, birding, stargazing, swimming, boating picnicking, hiking and biking. Facilities include several parks, the Miller Springs Nature Center, wetlands, boat ramps, and fishing piers. The lake is on FM 1670 approximately 8 miles west of Temple, 3 miles north of Belton, Texas, and 1 mile south of U.S.190. From Belton, go 3 miles north on SH 317, 2 miles west on FM 439, and 1 mile north on FM 2271. 
Belton Lake Location Map
Current Belton Lake Level
Belton Lake Facilities Map 
Belton Lake TPWD Public Access Facilities Map
Belton Lake Facilities Open/Closure Status
Mother Neff State Park Directions:
From IH-35, take Exit 315 to SH 107 West to Moody. Continue 6 miles past Moody on SH 107, then take SH 236 for two miles to the park.