Welcome back to our whirlwind tour of White Rock Lake, that watery oasis in the middle of East Dallas. Previously, I discussed the dam complex and the lake itself; today, we’ll explore a few more of its wonders.By the way, here’s the new house I just bought on the shores of White Rock Lake:
Okay, NOT. As if I, as a freelance writer, could afford that! There’s this old joke about freelancers, see: “What’s the difference between a freelance writer and a large pepperoni pizza? The pizza can feed a family of four.” Yep. But in any case, it’s enjoyable to drive around the lake and see how the other 0.01% lives. White Rock has, over the years, attracted many of Dallas’ affluent to neighborhoods like Lakewood, Old Lake Highlands, Lake Park Estates, Casa Linda, and Forest Hills. Don’t get me wrong; not all the homes on the shores of the lake are mansions, but a lot of them are. Here’s another one:
Groovy. There were others, but I suspect you’d get tired of seeing one paraded after the other. It’s fun to drive around and look at them, though. Some are cloistered behind fences and locked gates, just as you might see in any wealthy neighborhood anywhere; others are wide open to intruders. Last time I came through here a few were for sale, but it seems they’ve been sold. I’ll bet those realtors got a nice, fat commission from those houses — they couldn’t have gone for less than several million.
From a recreational point of view, White Rock Lake is very popular for sailing; there are several major regattas every year, and the Corinthian Sailing Club sponsors weekend regattas all year round (often on Sunday afternoons). If you’re not into sailing, there’s also a lot of canoeing and other boating at White Rock. In fact, there’s a nice boathouse here, along the base of Tee Pee Hill on the west side of White Rock Lake Park.
Back when it was maintained by the city, starting in 1930, there used to be speedboats docked at the boathouse. A spur of the local streetcar line ended here, and the boats were used to ferry people to the opposite shore of the lake. Motorboats were banned on White Rock in 1958, and for 30 years a paddleboat concession ran the boathouse, until they finally abandoned it. It’s operated now by a non-profit corporation, which will happily provide information about memberships and such at their website, http://whiterockboathouse.com/. I’ve never actually been inside, but if you look through the windows you’ll see scads of canoes.
Incidentally, if you were wondering: this area was named Tee Pee Hill not because any Native Americans ever lived here, but because for years there was a Texas and Pacific Railway clubhouse located here.
One thing that’s not allowed at White Rock Lake anymore is swimming. I’m not sure why that is, because it used to be a big attraction here, back in the old days; but I’m not much of a swimmer anyway, so who am I to complain? What you can do here is fish, although I’ve never tried it. My understanding is that there are plenty of sunfish, white bass, largemouth bass, and especially catfish to be had. I’ll have to wet some lines this coming spring, once the schizo weather has settled down. Right now, it hasn’t quite decided whether it wants to be spring or winter. Damn you, Punxsutawney Phil!
In addition to serving as a recreational draw for the Dallas half of the Metroplex, the lake is host to the yearly White Rock Marathon, which follows the lakeshore along part of its course. The White Rock Marathon is one of the top ten marathons in the USA, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon; it mostly benefits the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. I really respect those who run marathons, mostly because I couldn’t do it, ever. Heck, did you know that the original runner who ran from Marathon to Athens in ancient Greece to report on the Battle of Marathon died of exhaustion? And no wonder — more than 26 miles without stopping is nothing to sneeze at.
But anyway — if you’re visiting White Rock Lake anytime from spring to fall, be sure to take in the nearby Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, which is located on the southeastern shore. <> I haven’t yet reported on the Arboretum, but I will, once spring comes and the flowers seriously start to bloom.