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McGehee Family Aquarena Springs collection

Identifier: 2012-002

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of materials related to the Mill Tract and Aquarena Springs property, as collected and created by the McGehee family. Included in the collection is a bound abstract of title to A.B. Rogers as prepared for the San Marcos Utilities Co. dated 02/25/1926; a manuscript containing research and documentation used to apply for a Texas Historical Marker commemorating the Mill Tract; and invitations and programs for the marker dedication. Also included are clippings and fliers about the Aquarena hotel, copies of brochures advertising the hotel property between 1930 and 1960 when it was used as Sanitarium and housed the Brown School, a menu from Pepper’s restaurant, and two pamphlets written by Albert S. McGehee detailing the history of the Mill Tract and the Aquarena hotel.

Collection series is arranged chronologically. Series I: Abstract of Title, 1926-1949; Series II: News Clippings, 1929-1988; Series III: Hospital/Sanitarium Brochures, circa 1930-1940; Series IV: Brown School Documentation, circa 1940-1960; Series V: Aquarena Springs Inn flyer, 1971; Series VI: Historical Research and Documentation, 1981-1989; Series VII: Texas Historical Marker, 1985-1987.


  • 1926-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Special Collections and Archives owns the physical items in our collections, but the researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies.

Biographical note

The McGehee family has been a part of the San Marcos community since 1846, when Thomas Gilmer McGehee (1810-1890) established a large farm between the Blanco and San Marcos Rivers. Albert Scott McGehee II (1919-1999), Thomas Gilmer’s great-grandson, graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1938. He later served as manager of the Inn at Aquarena Springs from 1979-1986 and authored two booklets (under the name “Albert S. McGehee”) detailing history related to Aquarena Springs. Albert’s son, Albert Scott McGehee III (known as “Scott”), also had a long career working at Aquarena from 1969-1985. Scott researched and authored the document used to apply for the Texas Historical Marker commemorating the Mill Tract.

The area of land that came to be known as “The Mill Tract” was first settled by Edward Burleson in 1844, and in 1848, Burleson moved his family to a log cabin located on a hill approximately 200 yards northwest of the San Marcos Springs. The first dam to be constructed on the San Marcos River was built by Burleson in 1849 and was closely followed by a grist mill and saw mill. His enterprise in the construction of the first dam to afford direct water power for his grist mill and saw mill paved the way for the continuing utilization of the tract as San Marcos’ first industrial park. In subsequent years, a cotton gin, three successive ice factories, water works, the electric light and power plant, and a succession of restaurants have contributed to the history of the Mill Tract and the economy of San Marcos.

The original Mill Tract land also includes the area that became Aquarena Springs. A.B. Rogers purchased 125 acres of land around the head of the San Marcos River from the San Marcos Utilities Company in 1926. Here, he opened the Rogers’ Spring Lake Park Hotel in April 1929. His son, Paul, in 1946 launched what was to be the first of many glass bottom boats on Spring Lake, and in 1950 he opened the underwater theater known as the “Aquarena” - which began the period of the Aquarena Springs Resort.

The University purchased the Aquarena property, including Spring Lake, in 1994. In 2000, the hotel and resort were closed to tourists and the area was transformed into Aquarena Center (now the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment) with a focus on conservation, research, and education.


0.41 Linear Feet (One legal sized Hollinger box)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of materials related to the Mill Tract and Aquarena Springs property, including a bound abstract of title to A.B. Rogers (founder of the Spring Lake/Aquarena Hotel), research and documentation used to apply for a Texas Historical Marker. Also included are clippings and fliers about the Aquarena hotel.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice may be required for use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Scott McGehee in 2011 on behalf of the McGehee Family.

Sarah Marshall
2012 January 10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020 July: Updated, Nicole Critchley

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Alkek Library Room 580
601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA