Boy Scout Village

The tremendous strides in advancement during the late twenties and early thirties of Scouts to the Eagle rank were the direct results of a Log Cabin Village being located on the banks of the North Concho river in San Angelo, Texas.  The Village was a place where all the Scout troops in San Angelo, at that time, met.  The  troops met on Friday night in the Village.  A lot of competition was held between the troops on that night because they were located so close to each other.   Field meets, swimming lessons, Courts of Honor, boxing matches, basketball, football, kite contests and campfires were just a few of the activities held in the Village.

J. W. Crotty, Scoutmaster of Troop 1, during the Spring of 1928, conceived the idea of turning an old free tourist park, located along the North Concho River off Randolph street into a Boy Scout park and building cabins for each troop.  The idea was revolutionary and new to Scouting.  E. V. Spence, city manager, agreed that the day of the free tourist park had passed and that the police and health departments considered the camp a nuisance and source of trouble.  Whisky and beer had been confiscated in park raids and doctors indicated they had been called there for treatment of drunks and drug addicts.  The consensus of opinion was that the more desirable tourists were able to pay the charge of the private tourist camps located in San Angelo.

The conversion of the park to the Scouts would also remove $75 per month on the park board in caretaking so they were in favor of the project.


A petition was circulated on Saturday, May 12, 1928, by the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls which resulted in the collection of 10,000 names.  The petition was presented to the City Commission on Tuesday, May 15, and read:

"Whereas the maintenance of a free tourist park is in our opinion a needless expense on the taxpayers of San Angelo because of the fact that there are adequate privately-operated parks sufficient to care for all tourist needs. and

"Whereas we believe the Boy Scout and Camp Fire Girl movements are greatly assisting in the proper training of our future citizens and that such movements are worthy of the fullest support,

"Now, therefore, we the undersigned respectfully request the mayor, the city commissioners and the park board to move the free tourist park and turn over that part of the Santa Fe Park lying east of Abe street, with the exception of the approximately one half block of the park on the corner of Abe and Concho streets together with the improvements thereon to be used by the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls for their activities with the privilege of erecting thereon suitable troop homes for the troops that are now organized or that may be created."

It was explained by Brice Draper, Scout Executive, at the Commissioner's meeting that each individual troop house would be erected after a uniform plan, and the architectural design would be of the log cabin type.  A portion of the park would be devoted to the establishment of an athletic field and used as a playground for the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls.


Drawing of Village

Roy K. Hamberlin, local architect, designed the cabins.  Each cabin had an assembly room large enough for all Scout activities including games and formations.  Each cabin also had five small rooms for patrol dens of each troop.  The fifth room was the Scoutmaster's office.  At one end of the assembly room a platform was built.  A fireplace was supposed to have been built at the other end "depicting the traditions and history of the troop," but due to lack of funds, they were never added.  An eight-foot porch was extended the length of each building.  The cabins were modern in every respect, being piped with gas and wired with the latest approved lighting systems.   The Village, as finally completed, included 14 buildings, seven Boy Scout troop cabins, a Camp Fire cabin known as the "Mammy House," a model kitchen, a complete washroom for boys and one for girls, two bath houses, and a commissary building.


The Scout house which had been given to the girls earlier was moved from the Civic League Park and placed in a grove of trees just east of the Abe Street bridge.  Another room and a large porch were added to the building and the entire house was covered with log slabs to fit in with the designs of the other cabins in the Village.   A shower and bath were installed for use of overnight parties and the old filing cabinets which were in the old Scout house were made into a store room where the girls could keep their camp fire trophies, handicraft materials, tennis racquets, etc.  The second room served as a living room with rustic old hickory furniture.


The Village kitchen was used by both the Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls.  The kitchen was equipped with four gas stoves, two sinks, and two tables.  The cooking utensils and tin dishes used at the summer camps were kept in the kitchen.


A four-room tenant house, located near Koenigheim street was remodeled for a club room for the Knights of Zocah, the older Scouts of all troops, and also for a general headquarters for the Village.  Later, this became the home of Mr. & Mrs. Brice Draper.


Swinging bridgeSwinging bridge across Concho River

A swinging bridge built on 7/8 inch steel cables was swung high over the Concho River and led "to the mystic council ring."  It was located between the Abe street bridge and the Chadbourne street viaduct.  The bridge was supported by eight primary cables of 35 tons, was 295 feet long, and was built with 3,500 feet of steel cable.  The local union of the International Association of Bridge Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers constructed the suspension bridge.


On the South side of the river next to the swinging bridge, a complete swimming beach was constructed equipped with swings and diving boards.  The floats in the swimming hole were anchored to the bridge during high water to prevent their drifting away.  Two platforms had been erected at the swimming area.  The two platforms were twelve and fourteen feet high, respectively.  According to Harold Albert, the diving boards were made out of 2 by 12's and had to be replaced frequently because the boys would break them.  The swimming hole was to have had four double diving boards and towers with three large floats.  There were two bath houses with lockers.


                   Troop 6's Cabin in the Boy Scout Village
Troop 6's cabin in villageOf all the improvements made at the Log Cabin Village, the athletic field was the least remembered by the "Scouts" who were interviewed in 1988.  According to the original plans, there were to have been a one-eighth mile cinder track, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a general athletic field, and archery range, a one and one-fourth mile canoe course and a model swimming hole.  Most of this was eventually built.  We do know that much of the dirt used in the track and athletic field came from the excavation of the site on which the fourteen-story Hilton Hotel was constructed.  The soil was moved over to the Village by J. Lee Vilbig and Company, excavators, for 75 cents per load.

In talking with several "Scouts" of that day I found that the swimming area and athletic field were different from year to year depending on when the Scouts were active in Scouting at the Village. Some said there was a cinder track, others said there was not one.  Some remembered the diving platforms; others did not.  They all agreed that they played games and had contests on the grounds (athletic field) in front of the cabins and that they did go swimming in the river and there were diving boards there.  There were several floods on the river and I'm sure that the equipment found at the swimming area changed depending on what was replaced after each flood.  One of the Scouts, Edwin B. Buttery, said the playing field was barren of grass or any other kind of covering.  He said the ground was as hard as a rock and when you fell down you usually managed to skin yourself up.


On July 6, 1928, a "monster stunt night and circus" was held for the purpose of raising funds for the Log Cabin Village which was already being built.  The stunt night was held at the then San Angelo ball park.  A circus parade was held on June 30 to stimulate ticket sales.  The tickets were $1 each. The stunt night program, directed by W. G. "Squib" Hoyt and Miss Bibb Fowler, included the DeMolay Band, ten stunts, a three-round humorous boxing match, and Indian Camp pageant and "heartrending scenes from Shakespeare's drama."  The stunt night event took in $900 and raised one third of the $2,800 estimated cost of the Village.  However, the actual cost of the Village turned out to be $2,250 for each cabin and a total cost of $25,000.

The night of the program, they were to have given away a new Ford Cabriolet car donated to them by John Y. Rust, then president of the Concho Valley Council, in a lottery.  But due to a ruling by W. A. Stroman, County Attorney, on the meaning of "lotteries" they decided to sell the car instead as it was against the law to have a lottery in Scouting.  The money raised from the sale of the car was used for the Village construction costs.


Troop 2's cabin showing 'Her Majesty Queen Totem"
The oak slabs used on the outside of the buildings were given to them by J. P. Holmes of Arkansas, who was connected with the San Angelo Lumber Company.  When the log slabs came into San Angelo on railroad cars, they were unloaded by Reece and Harold Albert and stored in the backyard of their family home on Bell street.  When the construction crews were ready for the logs, they were then hauled over to the Village.

In addition to the oak slabs, around $350 worth of lumber from Camp Kickapoo was also used in the buildings.   Findlater Hardware Company donated the fittings and gas pipe for the Zocah house and three troop houses.  The Master Plumbers Association, the Axtell Plumbing company and the Franklin Supply Company donated gas water heaters and other supplies.  The Bunyard Electrical Company, Bullock and Taylor, and Braden Hudson and Wangler furnished wire and conduit.

The West Texas Utilities Company donated the fixtures, sending word for the Scout Executive to "come and pick out what he wants and take it away."  Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Labor Union No. 251, Journeymen Plumbers Local 553, men of the San Angelo Lumber Company, carpenters of West Texas Utility Company and Local 411, the Huntoon Roofing Company and many others donated their labor to build the Village. On Saturday, July 14, 1928, over 200 workmen were at the building site.  J. E. Parry was in charge of the carpenters, J. L. Anger, the plumbers, L. L. Gilbert was Chairman of the electrical union men, Joe C. Huntoon had charge of putting on the roofs, and J. W. Crotty was in charge of some eighty Boy Scouts who were used as water boys and helpers to the workmen.  W. A. Stroman, County Attorney, donated 150 pounds of meat which was barbecued by Fire Chief John Parker for dinner.  Miss Elizabeth Fowler had charge of serving the hungry workers.

By that evening five troop houses and a Knights of Zocah Lodge building were nearly erected with most of the rough electrical and plumbing work completed.


The dedication of the log cabins was to have been held during the Sheep and Goat Raiser's Convention on Wednesday afternoon, July 25, 1928, with Governor Dan Moody taking part in the ceremonies.  The ceremonies were to have been started with a parade from the City Hall at 4:30 a.m. down Chadbourne street to the Village.  James P. Fitch, Regional Executive, was also to be at the dedication.  Well, it rained and the ceremonies were postponed until the following day.  Being as Governor Dan Moody could not remain over for an additional day, they presented him with a life membership in the Village Guild.  As life would have it, it rained again the next day and a decision was made to postpone the ceremony this time to September 3, Labor Day.


       Brice Draper's home in the Boy Scout Village
Finally, on September 3, 1928, the Log Cabin Village was dedicated.  The occasion was the labor union's annual picnic.  In a simple, but impressive presentation and flag-raising ceremony witnessed by more than 500 persons, the Village was formally dedicated.  J. W. Scheuber, Scout commissioner and a director of the Camp Fire Girls' organization , acted as master of ceremonies.  The Village was formally presented in a short speech by Mayor W. D. Holcomb.  Speeches of acceptance were made for the Boy Scouts by John Y. Rust, president of the Scout Council, and for the Camp Fire Girls by Walter Yaggy, vice-president of the council.  Scout Executive Brice Draper was at a Scout Executives' Training School at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, and was not able to be present for the ceremonies.

The dedication program followed a huge holiday celebration by the Central Labor Union and affiliated organizations, which had a parade through the business section of the city at 9:30 a.m., speeches and addresses, a barbecue dinner at noon, and a medley of sport events during the afternoon.


Three newsreel cameras filmed the program.  Guy H. Allbright, staff cameraman for the Pathe Company, and Fred Backelman, who had charge of a district composed of the whole of Oklahoma and Texas, took shots of the event.  A third cameraman, representing the Fox Company, took pictures of the parade from top of the Naylor Hotel.


John Y. Rust in late 1930 made a proposition to the Boy Scout directors that if they would raise $4,000, he would give his check for $5,000 and wipe out a $9,000 debt on the Village which had existed since its construction.  Just a few days before the fifth anniversary of the council, the notes were paid off.


A parade, demonstrations and a Court of Honor were held August 29, 1930, commemorating the second anniversary of the dedication of the Log Cabin Village.  Twenty-one Eagle Scouts received their Eagle badges at the Court of Honor.  It was, at that time, claimed to be the largest presentation of Eagle Scouts ever made in the history of Texas.  Practically every Scout given rank at the Court of Honor had passed their tests at the Log Cabin Village, thus giving credit to the usefulness and real value of the Log Cabin Village plant.


The Village served Scouting well for eight years until it was washed away during the flood of September 17,1936.  All the traditions, troop history, accomplishments, collections, patrol valuables and much more were lost in that flood.  In all, ten Scout cabins were washed down the North Concho River, never to be seen again, nothing saved.  The loss was estimated to be $20,000.  The loss meant revamping plans for the nine San Angelo Scout troops that were meeting in the Village at that time.  They had to quickly make plans for the troops to continue with their meetings.

Last Updated:  June 7, 2010
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