FROM STAFF REPORTS
A Seattle-based tech startup has stitched together high-resolution surface-level and underwater photographs of Spring Lake to create a panoramic model of the San Marcos River’s spring-fed headwaters.
The digital map allows viewers to virtually float or snorkel Aquarena Springs while accessing location-specific water quality data. The map was created by Flying FishViews Inc. (F2V) with assistance from the The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the headquarters of which are housed in the former Spring Lake Park Hotel.
Fed by more than 200 springs, the lake is believed to be one of the longest continually inhabited sites in North America. Spear points found there provide archaeological evidence that humans have lived in the area surrounding Spring Lake for more than 12,000 years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have designated Spring Lake and the upper 3.8 miles of the San Marcos River headwaters as critical habitat for eight endangered species, such as the Texas blind salamander and Texas wild rice.
The lake itself was formed in 1849 when Gen. Edward Burleson, one San Marcos’s founders and a former vice president of the Republic of Texas, built a dam downstream of the springs to power a gristmill. A.B. Rogers tapped into the pool’s potential as a tourist draw in 1926 when he built his Art Deco-style hotel on the water’s edge. Over the decades, the Rogers family transformed the lake and its grounds into a major tourist attraction, adding glass-bottom boats in 1946 and the Submarine Theater in 1951.
The property was sold to Texas State University in 1994, which shut down the amusement park two years later and began re-orienting Aquarena Springs as an environmental research and education center. In 2011, a $4 million restoration project removed most of the vestiges of the former park (except the glass-bottom boats which still offer daily tours.)
F2V is working an underwater tour of the San Marcos River, which it expects to launch early this year, said Scott Gallagher, one of the company’s founders.
This story originally appeared Jan. 8 in BOBCAT MAGAZINE, a Mercury Media publication.
COVER: The former Spring Lake Park Hotel, now headquarters the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. PHOTO via FLICKR