BARTON SPRINGS. Barton Springs, the fourth largest springs in Texas, is located in Zilker Park in southwest Austin. There artesian water issues from the cavernous Edwards and associated limestones in the Balcones fault zone. For thousands of years the springs were a gathering place for Indians. Spanish explorers wrote in 1714 that wild horses were numerous there. The springs were named after William Barton, an early settler in the area. Saw, flour, and grist mills as well as ice-making machines have used the water power of the springs. The springs have always been popular for swimming and other recreational activities. During the 1980s, however, use of the springs began to be periodically curtailed because of pollution. The average flow from 1895 to 1978 was nearly 370 gallons per second. In 1992 a highly publicized campaign resulted in legislation for higher standards of water control.
Gunnar Brune, Springs of Texas, Vol. 1 (Fort Worth: Branch-Smith, 1981).