Browder's (Browder) Springs, located a mile southeast of the Dallas County Courthouse (at 32°43' N, 96°45' W), played two important roles in the early history of Dallas: as the first public water supply for the town and subsequently as a ruse by which Dallas captured the Texas and Pacific Railway. The artesian springs were named for Lucy Jane Browder and her two sons, Edward and Isham, who acquired the property before 1850. They served as a source of fresh water for residents in the vicinity, while the picturesque location, which included Mill Creek, was a popular site for picnics; it later became the city's first public park, City Park. In 1878 the privately owned Dallas Water Supply Company purchased Browder's Springs and two surrounding acres and expanded the pumping facilities it had inaugurated two years earlier on Mill Creek. Relations between the company and the city became increasingly strained because of poor service, and in 1881 the city bought the entire system, including the land, engines, boiler, pumps, standpipes, machinery, hydrants, hoses, and fire plugs, for $65,000. This first public station was closed in 1886 because water consumption was surpassing the capacity of the springs. A well was drilled from which residents could draw their own water. The station was reopened during droughts in 1909–10 and 1937 and then closed permanently. The springs disappeared when Mill Creek became a sewer in the 1930s, and the location was buried under R. L. Thornton Freeway in the 1960s.
In 1871, when the state legislature was debating a bill granting right of way to the Texas and Pacific, the T&P was planning a line west from Marshall along the thirty-second parallel, intended to cross the Houston and Texas Central near Corsicana. Representative John W. Lane of Dallas managed to attach a rider to the bill specifying that the T&P must cross the H&TC "within one mile of Browder's Springs." The bill passed before it was discovered that Browder's Springs was only a mile from the Dallas County Courthouse. Dallas leaders mollified the outraged railroad officials by raising a large bond issue ($100,000) for the benefit of the railroad and donating a right-of-way through town, now Pacific Avenue. Dallas thus became the first rail crossroads in the state and the shipping center for north central Texas.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Please make your contribution today.
M. E. and Eric H. Bolding, Origin and Growth of the Dallas Water Utilities (Dallas, 1981). William L. McDonald, Dallas Rediscovered: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870–1925 (Dallas: Dallas County Historical Society, 1978).
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Michael V. Hazel,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: