AUSTIN— After closing its doors in 2013 due to extensive damage from the Halloween flood, the Smith Visitors Center at McKinney Falls State Park is now open. To commemorate the reopening of the building, the park will be hosting a series of guided programs on Saturday, Oct. 16.
“After years of diligent work by our state parks and infrastructure staff, we are excited to once again open the doors of the Smith Visitor’s Center,” said Justin Rhodes, Deputy Director of Texas State Parks. “This facility will serve as a gateway for visitors to familiarize themselves with the unique cultural and natural resources found in the heart of our capitol city, and provide much needed meeting spaces for a variety of user groups coming to the park.”
On Halloween in 2013, the Smith Visitors Center was flooded by the rising waters of nearby Onion Creek. At its peak, there was 40 inches of water inside the building ruining electrical systems, interior walls and materials and interpretive exhibits. Staff worked diligently to clear the building and prepare it for future repairs. Before repairs can begin, the building flooded again in 2015.
The remodeled visitors center was designed to make the facility even more flood resistant. These efforts include elevating electrical and HVAC systems above flood lines, using concrete materials instead of sheetrock and creating new exhibits with water resistant materials.
The park also applied for and received an El Camino Real grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, which helped fund the new interpretive exhibits.
“These new exhibits give a more complete story of the park and include interactive displays showcasing the El Camino Real trail, cultural resources from Thomas McKinney’s (the parks’ namesake) time and a bat cave highlighting the importance of dark skies,” said Tommy Cude, Superintendent of McKinney Falls State Park.
For information about the park events being hosted by McKinney Falls State Park all year, visit the calendar page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website.
For images of the park, visit the TPWD Flickr page.