T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area initiated construction of the park facilities in 1938.
There is also evidence of the park’s growing historical significance. During an excavation for a proposed swimming pool in 1940, CCC workers unearthed evidence of prehistoric village, opening the door to a lost and forgotten civilization. The site has since been developed as Chucalissa Indian Village and is operated by the Univeristy of Memphis. It includes a village, presesrved archaeological excavations and a modern museum.
The 1,138 acre park is located in Shelby County within the southern limits of the city of Memphis. Its diverse terrain, from the Mississippi flood plains to the high and overshadowing bluff ridges, makes the area an ideal place for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails range from moderate to rugged. The Discovery Trail is a four mile loop where visitors have the opportunity to see the Chucalissa Indian Village and Wetlands.
Picnicking is also popular with 35 picnic tables and grills located throughout the park. The park has four shelters that can accommodate groups of 40 to 120 people. All shelters have grills, nearby bathroom facilities, picnic tables and electric outlets. Reservations are required and should be made well in advance. For guests looking for a place to swim during their stay, there is an Olympic-size pool centrally located in the main recreation area of the park. The pool is open from early summer through Labor Day.
New Nature Center
A new nature center is currently under construction. The center will include an outdoor classroom area for schools in the Memphis/Shelby County area.