Camp Louis Farr

Gillie Pfluger of San Angelo remembers helping to move the dining all and other buildings from Camp Connellee to Louis Farr for summer camp in 1931.  The first week of summer camp started on May 24, 1931.  In preparation for the camp, a kitchen and storeroom were erected with a concrete floor and a dining hall large enough to accommodate 160 campers was added next to the kitchen.

Dining Hall at Camp Louis FarrA well was dug near the kitchen and an office and craft storeroom were build as well as dressing rooms for the swimmers.  The new campsite was located several hundred yards from the site used on Spring Creek the previous year.  It was out of danger of high water and afforded an open playground and large woods nearby.

One of the largest trees in West Texas grows near the camp and an old stage coach line left history of Indian fights near the site.  The camp that year cost $5.25 for one week and $10.00 for two weeks.  The camp was fun similar to the previous camps except that older Eagle Scouts were helping out.  Eagle Scout Ralph Logan directed the games at camp which consisted of water polo, baseball, volley ball, Ping-Pong, horseshoe pitching, and croquet.  Eagle Scout Sam Scheuber was in charge of handicraft.

Bill Erwin was the camp bugler and directed the camp daily newspaper, the "Nightly Howl."  Eagle Scouts Luther Coulter and Harrison Clary stenciled the new belt honors and Edwin Buttery was director of photography and Stanley Sutton was in charge of night games, Indian and Pow-Wow nights, stunt night, story nights, whoopee nights and dramatics.  The camp band was led by W. C. Crowley, director of the McCamey band.

The camp started on a Sunday afternoon, May 24, with 150 Scouts with most of the boys having signed up for two weeks.  Scouts in Texas came from San Angelo, Bronte, Sterling City, Brady, Melvin, Eden, Sonora, Junction, Ozona, Mertzon, McCamey, Texon, Iraan, Sheffield, Fort Stockton and Roswell, New Mexico.

The camp band of 25 instruments, on May 30th, broadcast on KGKL from 7 to 7:30 p.m. by way of a telephone circuit into the San Angelo Telephone Company from camp.

There was plenty of rain the first week but the Scouts succeeded in keeping dry and entertaining themselves with stunts in their tents.  First week's activities included a miniature circus, minstrel show and various games and athletics.  The second week, added by 100 boys from the first week and an additional 150 boys, featured a game of "capture the flag" which ran for 24 hours.

Brice Draper was Camp Director with Frank Holiday of Junction serving as Assistant Camp Director.  J. E. Fowler, Jr. was director of water activities and H. E. Draper, Jr. was camp doctor.  Mabel and Eugene Martin served as camp chefs, with Mrs. B. W. Draper as camp dietitian.  Waldo Williams was director of nature lore.  Bill Wright and Charley Damron were directors of the older boy's program.

Building of Yates Hall

In 1933, the council decided that a mess hall to seat 300 people, with classroom and a first aid room on the first floor and a second story for sleeping during bad weather should be build on the camp property.  They arranged through a local lumber company to tear down a large barn in Groverton in East Texas for materials.  This was done and they were ready to build the mess hall except they needed rock for the outside.

Dr. Hal P. Bybee, Head Geologist for the University of Texas, suggested that a suspended cable trolley be built from a mountain across the river at the camp to the camp grounds so that rock could be trucked to the construction site.  A sturdy trolley was constructed with a bed of about four by eight feet suspended from used drilling cable strung across the river.  It was thought that there was sufficient arc in the cable to slow the car as it reached the lower end of the cable filled with rock.

A load was placed on the car and then released.  The race was on.  All that the slack in the cable accomplished was to allow the fully loaded car to pull the cable low enough to allow the car to cut the tops out of several trees on the way down.  When the car reached the impact area, contact with the ground was severe enough to destroy the trolley, sturdy bed and all!  Needless to say, the remainder of the rocks for the new dining hall were trucked down from the mountain by vehicle.

A carload of cement was purchased, shipped to Mertzon, where it was unloaded by a group of Explorer Scouts and trucked to the site.  A small gasoline powered concrete mixer was used to mix the cement.  The foundation was poured by Explorer Scouts and WPA laborers.  The entire crew was camped on the site during this construction.

Ice Used To Split Rails

For Windows and Doors

A flatcar of used railroad rails was obtained by Houston Hart, an official of the Orient Railroad, to be used as lintels over the doors and windows of the mess hall.  After measuring the length of rail needed, the rail was notched at the point where it was to be cut with a cold chisel on the sides, face and base of the rail.  The rail was then elevated by placing it over two railroad ties laid across the rails of an old siding.  Then a great deal of stress was applied to the point of the notches by forcing the rail down with a railroad jack.  The jack was simple set on the rail over the notches with heavy chain placed over the jack and secured to the same siding rails that supported the ties under the rail to be cut.  As the jack pressed down on the notched rail a five pound block of ice was set on the rail as close to the notches as the positions of the jack would allow.  After about twenty minutes, a sharp blow to the rail from a heavy sledge caused the rail to break on a relatively clean line.

Carr Village

During the fall of 1936, Carr Village was added to Camp Louis Farr.  The five-unit troop camping layout was made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Carr of San Angelo.  The Village was dedicated on Sunday, June 13, 1937, and was used at summer camp that year.  The Village cost about $3,000.00

The buildings had concrete foundations, floors, copper screen sides and windows, and a composition shingle roof.  All the buildings had 30 inch high rock walls with an imitation log siding built on the back ends of each building.Carr Villiage at Camp Louis Farr  Three of the buildings were used as sleeping cabins, and were 16' by 20'; one was a combination recreational and mess hall building, 20' by 30'; and the fifth building was a shower and toilet house, 10' by 16'.  The recreation building had windows in front and back and a rustic fireplace at one end.  The five buildings formed a circle in the Northeast corner of the pecan grove on Spring Creek.

Buffalo Trail Council Rents Camp in 1941

On August 11, 1941, Scouts of the Buffalo Trail Council, came for a six-day camp.  "More than 150 Boy Scouts from the council were expected to attend the camp that the council had rented from the Concho Valley Council.  Here they were to find a large dining and recreation hall, first aid building, showers, handicraft lodges, running water, library, gymnasium and other physical facilities in addition to points of interest for hikes, pioneering and games.

"Those who enjoy swimming may have instruction in life saving and swimming under direction of qualified instructors, MOrris said."

"Further information may be secured from Scoutmasters Ernest Langley, Garland Vinson, J. P. Williams, Frank Coalson, Charles Kight, Harry Elliot and W. F. Ford, or J. C. Morris."

The camp ran for 26 years with thousands of boys experiencing the adventure of Camp Louis Farr.  When the council quit the camp in 1955, the materials from Carr Village were taken to Camp Sol Mayer where they were used to build the old headquarters and visitors building across from the dining hall.  All that remains of Camp Louis Farr today is the two story Yates dining hall, the caretakers home and some rock walls in Carl Village..

More Photos of Camp Louis Farr

Material for this story was taken from Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911-2001, by Frank T. Hilton, 2001, and a newspaper story, publisher unknown, in August 1941.

Updated March 4, 2009
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