BUFFALO SPRINGS LAKE
BUFFALO SPRINGS LAKE. Buffalo Springs Lake, located on Farm Road 835 nine miles southeast of Lubbock in Lubbock County (at 33°32' N, 101°42' W), provides a major recreation area for West Texas. The lake comprises 200 surface acres and has a storage capacity of 3,950 acre-feet. Buffalo hunters first used Buffalo Springs in 1874, when they skirmished with Comanche Indians there. The Causey brothers built a half dugout at Buffalo Springs in 1877, and a year later ranchers moved into the area. Picnics and outings were very popular with the early settlers. The springs were then on land owned by the S. I. Johnston ranch. To develop the site as a recreational spot, Sheriff Bud Johnston and his brother Jim initiated simple improvements. In the late 1920s, after the estate was sold, pioneer J. A. (Andy) Wilson formed the Buffalo Lakes Association and put a small dam across the canyon. Memberships were sold, and boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, camping, and picnicking were available. Some members of the association built cabins around the lake. In December 1957 Lubbock County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 bought 1,612 acres around Buffalo Lake to provide a community recreation center. The surface level of the lake was elevated repeatedly, most recently in 1960; the site of the main springs has been inundated, though the springs still flow. They have, in fact, benefitted by recharge of their aquifer with water from Lake Meredith, by way of Lubbock lawns and gardens.
The lake is surrounded by farmland and grows rife with summer weeds because of nutrients from the watershed. Its fish include largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, striped bass, and walleye. Florida bass were first stocked in 1983, and striped bass fishing is good. A rare member of the horsetail family, the bottlebrush plant, occurs only at the lake. Near the lake, residents lease land from the county and pay for their own improvements. A five-member board elected by county voters governs the lake; members serve alternating terms of two years. Areas are provided for waterskiing, fishing, boating, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, and camping. Many special events are held at the lake each year, including boat races, waterskiing shows, bicycle races, sailboat regattas, marathons, and country music programs. A small entrance fee is charged, and an estimated million people visit the lake each year.
Gunnar Brune, Springs of Texas, Vol. 1 (Fort Worth: Branch-Smith, 1981). Lawrence L. Graves, ed., A History of Lubbock (Lubbock: West Texas Museum Association, 1962).