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Lake Whitney
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The Lake Whitney Destination encompasses a portion of the Brazos River Basin and the Washita Prairie in Texas. Its main feature is Lake Whitney, a manmade reservoir designed to control flood risks throughout the basin while doubling as the site of Lake Whitney State Park.[1] Lake Whitney State Park is a common attraction for visitors to hike, camp, bike, birdwatch, hunt, and participate in aquatic recreational activities.[2] Additionally, Lake Whitney is the resting place of Towash, an abandoned town sitting underneath the water's surface.[7] The Lake Whitney Destination comprises several towns and cities, such as Whitney, Waco, Cleburne, and Granbury. Being part of a river basin and a prairie, the Lake Whitney Destination is largely flat and grassy, although farmland, rivers, and tributaries also comprise a significant portion of the land. The area's climate is usually hot and muggy during the summer, with average temperatures in the high 80s and 90s from June to September. Winter is cooler, although temperatures seldom reach freezing point. As such, the best recommended time to visit the area is from April to June or September through October.[4]

What Lake Whitney is known for

The Lake Whitney Destination is primarily known for Lake Whitney, a manmade lake in the Brazos River Basin in the Washita Prairie.[6] More specifically, Lake Whitney is between Bosque County and Hill County, Texas.[8] This reservoir extends from the Brazos River and has a surface area of about 37 square miles with a maximum depth of 108 feet. Its intended purpose is to provide flood control for residents of the Brazos River Basin, although it also serves as a recreational area and a secondary source of water during droughts.[1] The lake is named after the town of Whitney, Texas, which was originally named after Charles A. Whitney, a principal stockholder of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad.[5] The Lake Whitney Destination is known for Lake Whitney State Park and nearby towns and cities, such as Waco, the largest city in the region. Another known fact about Lake Whitney is that an abandoned town, Towash, is under the surface at the lowest depth. Some of the town's foundations can be seen when the water level at Lake Whitney is low, and scuba divers often see the town's remnants while diving.[7]

As previously mentioned, Lake Whitney is a common destination for recreation, mainly because of Lake Whitney State Park. Dubbed the "Getaway Capital of Texas" in 2005 by Texas Legislature, it has become a place for visitors to fish, sail, wakeboard, jet ski, boat, waterski, and hunt. Nearby golf courses draw people to the lake as well.[1] The state park's shoreline provides spaces to geocache, camp, bike, hike, and stargaze at night. Nearby restaurants and shopping outlets are also about three miles from Lake Whitney. Furthermore, the lake and state park are home to, or part of, several nature sites. The Washita Prairie extends from the southern portion of the Red River to the Colorado River, creating an expansive grassland. Brazos de Dios is a trail spanning the length of the Brazos River from the Panhandle to the eastern coast just below Houston.[2] It was named as such by Spanish explorers expressing gratitude to God for fresh water during their travels throughout its territory.[6]

Most of the cities in the Lake Whitney Destination are not densely populated. The largest city in the Lake Whitney Destination is Waco, a few miles south of Lake Whitney. Its 2020 census indicates a population of over 138,000 people and an estimated population exceeding 139,000 in 2021.[3]


The Lake Whitney Destination is exclusively in central-eastern Texas and extends from Zephyr to Marlin, Hubbard, and Alvarado. Other smaller cities include Cleburne, Stephenville, and Granbury, with Waco being the largest in this region. This area is mostly flat and covered with rivers and floodplains. Much of the area is also covered in farmland. As part of the Washita Prairie, a considerable portion of the land in the Lake Whitney Destination comprises flat grassland.[6]

Plants native to the Lake Whitney Destination include bluebonnets, wildflowers, Indiangrass, and oak trees.[6] Lake Whitney itself is a popular fishing destination with species such as striped bass, white bass, crappie, blue catfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass.[1] A variety of over 190 birds can be sighted in this region as well, including raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds. Furthermore, people visiting the area might see white-tail deer, skunks, armadillos, and raccoons.[6] Wild turkeys, opossums, and bald eagles have also been spotted at Lake Whitney State Park.[2]
The Lake Whitney Destination climate is generally humid and muggy throughout the summer with drier winters. Average summer temperatures reach or exceed 90 degrees from June to September, with a corresponding humidity of around 85%, although rainfall peaks at about four inches in May. Conversely, winters are dry and moderate, with high temperatures averaging about 48 degrees and rarely reaching 32 degrees or below. As such, snow is uncommon during the dry season, which lasts from October to April. With this in mind, the recommended best time to tour the Lake Whitney Destination is from April to early June and mid-September to late October; these months offer the mildest climate and moderate precipitation.[4]


Lake Whitney was created in an effort to regulate flooding in the Brazos River Basin. Severe flooding in 1913 and 1921, resulting in human and property casualties, led the government to develop an initiative to build dams across Texas to combat flooding.[1] U.S. Congress authorized the project in 1941, and construction began six years later, in 1947, because of delays from World War II. The reservoir was completed in 1951 and is currently operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[8]

During the early 1800s, the Commanche, Hainai, Ioni, Taovaya, Caddo, and other tribes inhabited the region as they moved upriver or settled in nearby areas. Before them, more tribes of native peoples inhabited the Brazos River Basin, some living as far back as an estimated 12,000 years ago. In 1835, The Hainai left Louisiana and settled in the Lake Whitney Destination. However, Anglo-American settlements in 1850 forced the natives out of their homes.[1] 

One of the first settlements in the Lake Whitney Destination was Towash. It was settled by Anglo-Americans in the early 1800s, rumored to be named after an Ioni chief they had met while the Ioni traveled upriver to inhabit other parts of the river plain. A dam was built in Towash to power a gristmill and other water-powered businesses. Throughout the mid-1800s, the town grew and started a post office, a school, a church, ferries, and a cotton gin in 1908. However, due to the fact that Whitney was chosen as a railroad town instead of Towash, this competition caused a slow decline until Towash was abandoned. When Lake Whitney was constructed in the 1940s and 1950s, Towash was submerged. The "ghost town" remains at the bottom of the lake to this day.[7]

The longer-lasting town of Whitney was established in 1876 and was chosen as a railroad town for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad to pass through. It was named after Charles A. Whitney, one of the company's stockholders. Subsequent growth led to the opening of a bank and a post office in 1880. It slowly grew over the 1880s and 1890s, only reaching a population of 1,000 in 1895. The early 1900s saw the opening of a few ice plants in Whitney. The construction of Lake Whitney caused the redirecting and opening of Highway 22 in 1951, which spanned the length of the newly constructed dam. This reservoir became a power source for a power plant and the primary source of flood control for the town and other people in the Brazos River Plain and the Lake Whitney Destination.[5]

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The Inn On The River is a bed and breakfast that can be found along the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. The inn can be located near the middle of town, right next to some noteworthy sites, like The Dinosaur Tracks, which is recognized by the state of Texas as a historical marker. The property's story dates back to the early 1900s. The Inn On The River derives its name from the fact that it offers visitors a front-row seat to the river. It is also close to a number of places of interest with different activities that guests can take part in.

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