History of Spring Lake


Deep in the heart of Texas, the San Marcos River bursts forth from the Edwards Aquifer through more than two hundred underwater springs. This tremendous natural resource quenched the thirst of long-extinct animals and the Paleo-Indians that hunted them. Spanish explorers and cowboys refreshed themselves and their mounts in the shade and shallows.

Before the interstate highways were built, travelers stopped to marvel at the underwater springs through glass-bottom boats. From the 1950s through the 1980s, visitors to Aquarena Springs were captivated by underwater shows starring Aquamaids and clowns.

Growing recognition of the unique ecosystem brought protections for endangered species and a focus on education and research. The headwaters of the San Marcos River continue to provide fresh water, outdoor recreation, and opportunities to better understand our obligations to co-exist with our environment.

Spring Lake is currently home to The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, a multidisciplinary center which focuses on water-related research and education.  Glass-bottom boat tours run daily, weather permitting (and with the exception of stated winter holidays), continuing the San Marcos tradition that began in 1947.

This exhibit highlights select materials from the University Archives at Texas State University to illustrate the history of Spring Lake, which is fondly remembered by many as the home of Aquarena Springs. Only a portion of the archives' materials are included in this exhibit. In addition, select images shared by area libraries and archives help to tell the springs' story.