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Sherwood Bishop Aquarena collection

Identifier: 80.300-Aquarena-2009-Bishop

Scope and Contents

This collection contains items related to the Aquarena Springs Resort in San Marcos, Texas. Collection was compiled by Sherwood Bishop and his wife purchased Aquarena items from eBay with the intent of eventually donating them to the university. The collection consists primarily of items that were available in the Aquarena gift shop, from approximately the 1950s through the 1990s.


  • circa 1905-1930, 1952-1996, undated


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Biographical note

Sherwood Bishop is a long-time resident of San Marcos, Texas with an interest in local history. At the time of the donation he was employed by Texas State University in the Economics department.

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.


4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This accession is arranged into ten series based on artifact type.

Series I: Tableware, undated;
Series II: Salt and Pepper Shakers, undated;
Series III: Vessels, undated;
Series IV: Coasters, undated;
Series V: Spoons, undated;
Series VI: Metal Objects, undated;
Series VII: Items published by Aquarena, undated;
Series VIII: Items published about Aquarena, 1952-1982;
Series IX: Tchotchkes, 1958 and undated;
Series X: Items unrelated to Aquarena, circa 1905-1930 and undated.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Sherwood Bishop in 2009. This collection was artificially gathered by Sherwood Bishop mostly through an online auction site. Items were not purchased directly from the Aquarena Springs gift shop.

Separated Materials

Removed: 1. One 5.5” postcard with image of Aquamaid performing the ballet knee back roll 2. 1930 San Marcos City directory

Reason: Items stored in their respective collection.

Separated Item(s) Moved To: 1.Moved to postcard collection 2.Moved to San Marcos city directory collection

Sherwood Bishop Aquarena collection
Under Revision
Sarah Marshall
2011 November 3
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