Mark Anderson is no stranger to the Cow Bayou waterfront. A lifelong resident of Bridge City the 51-year old school board president knows the lay of the land. On Monday, the second generation owner of George Anderson Surveying began mapping out a future waterfront park in his hometown.

The waterfront park will be located on Texas Highway 87 on the almost five acres next to the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge. The rare swing bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 adding to the significance of the adjoining property.

Anderson, like most who grew up in Bridge City between the 1940’s and 1980’s, spent time on the Cow Bayou shoreline at the site of the future park. Many still remember Joe Bailey’s Fish Camp that was once located there. Famous for good times, the establishment flourished in the days when operation of the swing bridge was a routine part of life in early Bridge City.

The waterfront park project got a huge boost in April when Ms. Gisela Houseman became a partner in the campaign. As landowner, Houseman placed the property within reach of the fund raising efforts of the nonprofit Historical Museum of Bridge City. She also pledged to build a multipurpose facility on the land. The facility will serve as a nature and heritage center. The large, raised structure is being designed and constructed by Tony Houseman Homes.

Anderson has only childhood memories of Joe Bailey’s. “Pool tables and music. That’s about all I can remember,” Anderson said, “My dad loved to play pool and we enjoyed going there with him.” Anderson’s memories of later years are more clear. “Well, like everyone else in Bridge City I spent time out here. I wasn’t much of a swimmer but it was fun.” 

Surveying the property is the initial steps in creating the Waterfront Park Master Plan.
“We first are just determining the boundaries. Then we will come back and do topography work identifying the trees and contours,” said Anderson, “That is the picture of the property that we give to the architect.” Currently there are five old sycamore trees on the land and a few young cedars along the shore.

“This is a perfect setting for a waterfront park,” Anderson said, “It is next to the historic bridge at a place that is special to most of us. It will be a great amenity for Bridge City.”
Bridge City Architect Mark Magnuson is pitching in by designing the waterfront park itself. When the master plan is completed the Historical Museum of Bridge City will launch the capitol campaign to help purchase the property and develop it. The total cost for the entire project, including development, has not yet been established.

As proposed, the waterfront park on Cow Bayou would be family oriented and ideal for numerous recreational and educational activities and events. It would include such amenities as an amphitheater, playgrounds, a broad boardwalk along the bulkhead, period style lighting throughout the park and along the shoreline, covered picnic tables, walking trails and floral gardens.

The park would also be accessible to boaters where such events as boat shows, boater education courses and fishing tournaments would be held. It would be the site of an annual Bridge City Heritage Festival and an ‘art in the park’ style celebration on the bayou. Everything from weddings to family reunions could be hosted there.

After Joe Bailey’s Fish Camp burned in the 1970’s the shoreline remained available for public enjoyment but later closed. Since then the land has remained vacant for nearly four decades.

The Historical Museum of Bridge City is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization. A special account has been set up for tax deductible donations to the park. For more information contact Joe Chenella at 920-0243 or email