White Rock Lake Aerial Photographs, 1927 Fairchild Survey

The White Rock Lake Aerial Photographs, 1927 Fairchild Survey digital collection is now available online. There are 37 photographs in the collection, which were taken by Fairchild Aerial Surveys for Dr. Samuel G. Geiser. Except for an overview aerial of the lake and surrounding area taken in 1926 at an altitude of 18,000 feet, the photographs were taken from an elevation of 4800 feet in 1927 and feature many popular recreational sites and other notable areas of the lake.

The aerial survey collection is held by Southern Methodist University’s DeGolyer Library. Regional historian George Cearley identified important features in the photographs such as major roads, railways, and landmarks.¬†In the digital collection, there are two versions of each image, labeled and unlabeled.¬†Labeled images include George Cearley’s annotations, which appear below the image.

DeGolyer Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU’s Central University Libraries special collections.

The White Rock Lake Aerial Photographs, 1927 Fairchild Survey is one of a growing number of Dallas aerial photograph surveys, which also include the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library’s Dallas Historic Aerial Photographs, 1930 Fairchild Survey and Dallas Aerial Photographs, 1945 USDA Survey.

About White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake, which originated as a city project, was commissioned to provide water to the growing city of Dallas. City officials began purchasing land around White Rock Creek in 1909. Winding branches of White Rock Creek are visible in Grid 02, Grid 03, and Grid 13. The dam and pump station, seen in Grid 11, Grid 12, and Grid 35, were completed in 1911. Due to drought, however, White Rock Lake did not fill up until 1914. It eventually became a popular recreational destination, but the lake was closed to swimming in 1933 when it was appropriated for use as a water source. White Rock Lake was never reopened for swimming, but the trails are still used today. Also visible in Grid 35 is the White Rock spillway, an ever-popular spot for visitors even today.

[White Rock Lake Aerial Overview (labeled)]
[White Rock Lake Aerial Overview (labeled)]
William Doran, city Commissioner for Streets and Public Lands, oversaw negotiation and acquisition of 2,292 acres from local landowners for construction of the lake. Doran’s Point, depicted in Grid 19, was named in his honor. Dixon Bay, another popular site on White Rock Lake, is seen in Grid 26, Grid 27, and Grid 28. Although Dixon Bay was a popular site in 1927 when the photos were taken, it is almost completely silted in today. Several private boat houses are visible in Grid 11, but by 1952 they had been removed because patrons felt their presence reduced access to the lake. The future site of the DeGolyers’ lakefront estate, Rancho Encinal, is visible in Grid 34. The estate was later purchased by the City of Dallas and developed into the Dallas Arboretum.

Source: Sally Rodriguez, Images of America, White Rock Lake, 2010, Arcadia Publishing.

Digital Collections Guidelines and Procedures

Items in Central University Library Digital Collections are digitized following the SMU Central University Libraries Digitization Guidelines and Procedures. Digital collections are created under the guidelines of the SMU CONTENTdm Guide: Framework for Building a Collection, or through specialized metadata profiles tailored for the collection.

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