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Public History Aquarena Springs Project collection

Identifier: 34.1603

Scope and Contents

Various materials related to Cynthia Brandimarte's public history course. The materials focus on the history of the former Aquarena Springs park in San Marcos, Texas. The materials cover the history of the San Marcos area, tourism, and other information related to the park. Materials kept in original order.


  • 1998-2001, 2009


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 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.

Historical note

The public history program at Texas State University began in 1997 and Cynthia Brandimarte was its first director. Shortly before her arrival, the school purchased the Aquarena Springs Amusement Park and the 90 acres of land that went with it. The school's objective was to eventually start a river research program at the former park, but doing so required removal of the majority of the park's amenities. According to Dr. Brandimarte, this project was intended to not overlook the cultural resources of the park and to focus on more recent history rather than the prehistoric artifacts.

The land on which Aquarena Springs stood has been used by people since the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods. The then was dammed in 1949 to run a gristmill. In 1926 the land was purchased by A.B. Rogers who constructed the Spring Lake Hotel, a swimming pool, and golf course on the property. In 1941 the land was leased to the Brown Training School which provided child psychiatry and occupational therapy for mentally challenged children. After World War II Rogers and his son Paul created their first glass bottom boat. After conducting research at parks in Floria, Paul Rogers and new partner Don Russell began adding attractions to the park, including an underwater theater, the Texan Shop, artificial waterfalls, gardens, alligator ponds, and a Texana village.

As tourists' tastes began to change later in the 20th century, the park was sold to real estate developers in 1985. Unfortunately for the develoers, the City of San Marcos had restrictions on development along the river. The developers continued to run the amusement park, but it began deteriorating under their control. In 1994 Southwest Texas State Univerrity paid $7 million for the 90 acres the developers owned. The school ran the park for a year before the Board of Regents shut it down due to huge financial losses. The former Aquarena Springs property is currently the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.


3.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The materials from a Texas State University Public History course. Materials focus on the history of the former Aquarena Springs park in San Marcos, Texas, as well as the history of the San Marcos area, tourism, and other information related to the park.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored offsite. Advance notice may be required for use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cynthia Bradimarte, former Director of Public History at Texas State University, 2020 December 16.

Public History Aquarena Springs Project collection
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May: Revised for DACS compliance, Nicole Critchley

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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