SAN ANTONIO SPRINGS
SAN ANTONIO SPRINGS. San Antonio Springs, in San Antonio, is the fifth largest cluster of springs in Texas. The springs flow from the Edwards and associated limestones by way of faults in the Balcones fault zone. Originally there were over 100 of them. The springs were visited by the expedition of Damián Massanet in 1691 and described in the diary of Isidro Félix de Espinosa in 1716. They were an important center of Spanish missionary activity. The early missions employed a system of aqueducts and ditches to distribute the spring water for crop irrigation. The first such ditch was dug at San Antonio de Valero Mission (the Alamo) in 1745.
By the Civil War the spring waters had been contaminated, and typhoid fever and malaria became prevalent. In the 1880s the first artesian wells were drilled into the Edwards aquifer to supply San Antonio. Heavy pumping of the groundwater, primarily by the city, caused the spring flow to become erratic in the later twentieth century, sometimes to cease altogether. Since 1926 the springs have been partially protected by the Olmos dam from flooding and sedimentation. The springs are now located chiefly on the property of Incarnate Word College. The springs and surrounding area have been designated the Source of the River Archeological District and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Artifacts of Paleo-Indian cultures over 11,000 years old have been found on the site.