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Eisenhower State Park State and Historic Site

Pair of parks pay tribute to 34th president.

An eagle’s-eye view awaits campers fortunate enough to reserve one of the premium campsites at Eisenhower State Park that overlooks Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border just northwest of the old railroad town of Denison.

Denison, about 75 miles north of Dallas, is home to both the 426-acre park and the 6-acre Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site. Both are named for Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in 1890 in Denison, and went on to become a top military leader during World War II and serve two terms as president of the United States.

The north Texas state park also enjoys a national reputation among fishermen for its quality stripers and ready access to 89,000-acre Lake Texoma. Anglers benefit from a launching ramp, fish-cleaning facility, lighted fishing pier, courtesy boat dock and even a yacht club.

Visitors share Eisenhower’s grassy upland savannas and wooded hillsides and ravines of bois d’arc, oaks, elms and sumac with a variety of wildlife, including screech owls and bluebirds, which nest in boxes erected throughout the park.

Wildlife watchers can spot white-tailed deer, armadillos, raccoons and rabbits, as well as nocturnal species, such as coyotes and bobcats. Inquisitive park patrons may want to take advantage of staff-led interpretive programs on poisonous plants, geology, reptiles and other topics held in the amphitheater.

Tours of Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site are available in nearby Denison, a town established as a railhead in 1872 by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. The park preserves the two-story frame house on a hilltop near the railroad tracks where the 34th president of the United States was born and lived for two years.

A guided tour of the handsomely landscaped residence provides insight into the modest life led by the Eisenhower family during the years David, Ida and their children resided there. The three-bedroom home contains few family furnishings, but does include some historic photographs of Eisenhower’s three visits to his birthplace that occurred between 1946 and 1965 and one of his paintings.

The park’s visitor center contains several displays related to the late president, such as a bronze bust of Eisenhower, historic photographs of the Denison native and the “Ike Jacket,” the short-waisted, tailored wool field jacket worn by the U.S. general. Other park facilities include the Red Store, an 1890s-era general store that serves as an education center, a covered pavilion/restroom building and improved hiking trails.

— Rob McCorkle

The park is located on FM 1310, 5 miles north of Denison off State Highway 91. For more information about the park, call (903) 465-1956. Eisenhower Birthplace is located near the corner of Lamar and Nelson streets in the heart of Denison; call (903) 465-8908.

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