|Somewhere on the Little Wichita|
We called it Tree in the Middle of the Road Park.
That’s what our five-year-old Brian dubbed it back when we first discovered this patch of a park hugging the Little Wichita River. The tree stands to this day, some 30-odd years on; but the road has been moved aside, no doubt an effort to protect the undriveworthy from their own self-destructive idiocy more than for the safety of the tree.
While the good folks of River City flooded the polls Saturday to put down a proposed school bond issue, A.D. Porter, the afore-mentioned Kid (now 42) and myself escaped to the TMRP for an overnighter and a chance to see just how much city one can purge in a mere 24 hours.
This little patch just off of highway 281 officially, at least, still exists as Shoshone Park owned by the City of Wichita Falls. City of Wichita Falls took possession of the land while constructing Lake Arrowhead and opened Shoshone as free public-access, something of an informal park, if you will.
Anyone could see Shoshone Park would be a maintenance issue for the city; these few acres of riparian wetland, lying some umpteen miles south of town in a neighboring county.
The city put in a hard-surface road, a concrete boat ramp and placed several trash barrels in strategic locations. A minimalist effort, perhaps, yet a righteous plan for a quiet retreat beside the river.
Nor did it take long to be discovered after Arrowhead was impounded in 1965.
Shoshone was a fishing hot spot for crappie, sand bass and catfish. There was ample space for primitive camping -- no drinking water nor potties on site -- a large open meadow where kids and dogs could run wild, and easy access to the river all along the road. Families, fisherfolk, birders, boaters as well as young folk looking to get lucky flocked to Shoshone.
|Deep ruts after a rain hamper vehicle access to some sites.|
Today Shoshone is an overgrown, tangled thicket of its former status. It's as if no one save a few old codgers with long memories go out there anymore; she's the forgotten, abandoned park, the neighborhood haunted house.
And that just tickled us to death! For A.D., Brian and me, this was like discovering our secret spot all over again. With few remnants of city-park trappings left, nature had worked a serious makeover.
For the record, the land still is owned by the City of Wichita Falls and it remains open to public access without any fees. Archer County Sheriff's Dept. routinely patrols the area. The boat ramp is in place, but it does not reach to the river channel at this time. And, yes, folks are rediscovering this good old park.
Here's praying, Lord, we don't lover her to death all over again.
|The Kid (front) kicks back while A.D. (rear) tries to recall what the humpy, cloth-covered thingie is for.|