Woodlake is midway between Sherman and Denison in central Grayson County, secluded in a heavily wooded site once known as Tanyard Springs. In 1901 local businessman J. P. Crearer needed a promotional gimmick to attract passengers to his recently completed ten-mile-long electric interurban rail line connecting the two north central Texas towns. Therefore, in an area where natural springs form a small lake, he built a resort and recreational park. Over the next two decades Woodlake flourished as a popular summer retreat for tourists throughout north central Texas and southern Oklahoma. Among the attractions and activities were boating, swimming, fishing, picnic grounds, a zoo, various carnival rides, a flume, and a baseball diamond. The park also offered a palatial Victorian casino, an open-air dance pavilion, and a penny arcade that was sometimes used for roller skating. In 1908 officials of the Texas Traction Company purchased the park, including the lake, surrounding acreage, and buildings. A decade later financial pressures prompted the sale of the Woodlake operation to the Texas Electric Railway Company. After World War I, however, the fortunes of the park declined as a result of a series of fatal traction car accidents and the rising popularity of the automobile. Just as Woodlake's beginning was linked to the interurban, so too was its demise, as each summer fewer and fewer patrons visited the park. By 1929 the grounds were unkept, and the buildings had fallen into disrepair. Railway officials closed the park. Soon thereafter a group of local investors purchased the property for private use. Until 1954 the North Texas Baptist Encampment used the lake property and facilities for summer youth retreats and outdoor revivals. In 1985 the lake, still overgrown with weeds and thickets, remained a secluded hideaway for family weekend gatherings.
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