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Aquarena Springs Records

Identifier: 80.300-Aquarena

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection relate to the promotion and marketing of Aquarena Springs as well as Aquarena Center for Continuing Education. The majority of the materials are from the 1980s and 1990s and are inconsistent in coverage. This includes promotional materials such as advertisements in various audiovisual and print formats, photographs of events at Aquarena Springs, and a small amount of records such as marketing plans and reports as well as collected media coverage.


  • 1929-2010, undated
  • Majority of material found within 1983-2001


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections and Archives owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. 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 of Special Collections and Archives material in print or electronic form.

Historical note

Aquarena Springs was an amusement park in San Marcos, Texas, located on Spring Lake. It was started by Arthur Birch Rogers who bought 126 acres of land in 1926 with the intention of building a resort. The Rogers Spring Lake Resort Hotel opened in 1929. During the Great Depression, the building and facilities were sublet and became the Spring Lake Sanitarium and eventually turned into the Brown Training School, a private institution caring for mentally ill children, from 1940 to 1960.

Arthur’s son Paul J. Rogers became interested with the idea of putting glass bottom boats on Spring Lake in the late 1940s. After a small prototype in 1946, the first official glass bottom boat tour was on August 10, 1947. The tours grew to such a success that Paul Rogers started to plan an expansion. In 1950, Rogers opened Aquarena and continued to add attractions such as the Skyride, Texana Village, and the world's only submarine theater with aquamaids, Glurpo the Clown, and of course, Ralph the Swimming Pig. They also moved historical buildings to the north shore to create a walk-through garden. When the Rogers took over the hotel building once more, they reopened it as the Aquarena Springs Motor Hotel in 1961.

Although popular in the mid-century, guests declined in the 1970s probably due to the rising cost and shortage of gas, as well as competition from larger theme parks. The Paul J. Rogers Trust sold the property in 1985 to Baugh/Moore I Joint Venture, which continued to run the theme park. The park changed hands again in 1994 when Southwest Texas State University purchased the land. The University ran the park for a short time but soon shifted focus to the preservation and restoration of Spring Lake’s environment. The University kept the glass bottom boat in operation but started to remove many of the attractions to restore Spring Lake in order to protect the San Marcos river water head and the many unique species that live there.

Aquarena Springs became the Aquarena Center for Continuing Education. The University then established the International Institute for Sustainable Water Resources in 2002 which was renamed the River Systems Institute in 2005. It later became The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in 2012 after a donation from The Meadows Foundation. The Center focuses on research into water systems and the environment as well as sustainable energy, land and habitat conservation. They also provide education programs and community outreach.


10.42 Linear Feet (Eight record cartons, one oversized flat box (21x25x1.5), one vertical file.)

Language of Materials



Aquarena Springs was an amusement park in San Marcos, Texas, located on Spring Lake. In 1994, Texas State University purchased the land. The materials in this collection relate to the promotion and marketing of Aquarena Springs and mostly cover the 1980s and 1990s when the University was transitioning the amusement park into what it is today, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.


Arranged chronologically with the expection of Series III: Audiovisual and digital advertising materials, materials are arranged first by media format and then chronologically.

Physical Location

Stored in the Archives and Research Center offsite preservation. Advance notice is required for to view.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Trasnfered by Ron Coley, Director of the Aquarena Center for Continuing Education, in 2011.

Related Materials

See also: Texas Rivers Center at San Marcos Springs : master plan, prepared by Christopher Beckcom, F394.S3 B435 1999.

Aquarena Springs Records
Nicole Critchley
2020 February
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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