Balmorhea State Park Pool

After a two-year closure for a renovation project, the Balmorhea State Park pool in West Texas has reopened, offering visitors the opportunity for a refreshing dip into the spring-fed waters once again. In celebration of this Texas landmark, let’s dip into the collections at the State Archives for a look at historic images related to Balmorhea.

The popular summer swimming destination has been attracting travelers for decades. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park and its structures, including the pool, as part of the federal government’s effort to provide employment and a reliable paycheck for Americans suffering poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Image: Swimming pool springs 4-miles out, Balmorhea, Texas, 1936. William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection,1975/070-5412. TSLAC. View in TDA.

The State Archives has in its collections the CCC drawings for Balmorhea and other Texas State Parks. Explore the collection online through a searchable database specifically designed for these materials here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/CCCDrawings/

An extensive gallery of archival images of the Balmorhea project is also available for easy browsing online through the State Archives’ Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasstatearchives/albums/72157623645126618

Balmorhea State Park – Master Plan Cover Sheet – SP47-100
https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasstatearchives/4443594888/in/album-72157623645126618/
Balmorhea State Park – Development Plan, Solomon Springs Area – SP47-100-3
https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasstatearchives/4520436989/in/album-72157623645126618/

Texas State Parks Board records housed at the State Archives include images, promotional materials, correspondence and other items connected to the Balmorhea project. Though most of these records have not been digitized, several images below offer a glimpse of the kinds of research materials one might discover in these files.

San Solomon Springs – #558 – Balmorhea, Texas, 1939. Acquisition and development files, 2005/041-11. Texas State Parks Board records. TSLAC.

In a 1944 letter, the district engineer for the Texas Highway Department seemed perplexed by a request from the Texas State Parks Board to “place a reflectorized sign at the entrance to Balmorhea State Park.” The sketch in the image below was provided as evidence of the work having been completed several years prior.

Letter to Quinn from Killner, March 4, 1944. Acquisition and development files, Texas State Parks Board records, 2005/041-11. TSLAC.
Sign design for Balmorhea State Park, September 28, 1940. Administrative subject files, 2005/041-11, Texas State Parks Board records. TSLAC.

Would you rent a bathing suit at a swimming pool? According to this “notice to the public” about Balmorhea, bathing suits for sale or rental were available on site.

Notice to the public, undated. Acquisition and development files, Texas State Parks Board records, 2005/041-11. TSLAC.

The State Archives library collections also have publications on Balmorhea State Park and related topics. Here are examples of titles with links to the records in the online catalog:

Balmorhea State Park activity book / P500 B215AC 1998 / Texas Documents Collection

Birds of Balmorhea State Park & vicinity : a field checklist / P500 B215B 1992 / Texas Documents Collection

General community profile on Balmorhea / I400.7 G286BALH 1978 / Texas Documents Collection

Rebirth of a desert wetland : the San Solomon CiƩnega / P500 B215SA 2004 / Texas Documents Collection

For information on how to find these and other materials about Balmorhea State Park, please contact our reference staff at ref@tsl.texas.gov or call 512-463-5455.

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