Barton Springs, a group of springs that are counted as the fourth largest spring in Texas, have been attracting attention since the members of various Native American tribes found them to be a reliable and comfortable campsite thousands of years ago. “Uncle Billy” Barton bought the land around the springs in 1837, just before Austin was founded as the capital of the Republic of Texas. The two major springs were named after Barton's daughters Parthenia and Eliza. Although widely popular as a public swimming hole, campground, and picnic site during the late 1800s, it was 1918 before the springs came under public ownership, when Andrew Zilker donated the land around the springs to the Austin school district, which in turn sold the land to the City of Austin for public park land.
The city enlarged the pool and built the surrounding sidewalks in the 1920s, creating "the finest municipal resort in the entire southwest." It also built two permanent bath houses—a two-story wooden structure in 1922 that washed away in the flood of 1935 and the current limestone building in 1946. An average of 26 million gallons of water issue from the Edwards Aquifer through the springs each day at a stable and chilly 68° F.
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