Freeway Free in Texas: An Oasis in the Back of Beyond
We weren’t very far off of Interstate 10, the scarlet ribbon on our map which bisects West Texas between San Antonio and El Paso, when we pulled off at Balmorhea State Park. This unlikely spot was once a life-saving source of water for pioneers on the long southern trek to California
Imaging the astonishment of the first discoverers of San Solomon Springs. In the middle of flat emptiness, with nary a mountain in sight, and no sizable trees or vegetation from here to the horizon, an artesian spring bubbles out of the flat ground. This is no trickle of water which ebbs away between hot rocks, but a cool ( 72-76 degrees) endless source of liquid bounteous enough to fill a 1.3 acre pool up to 25 feet deep.
The oasis is now civilized, thanks to the efforts and energies of the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s. The swimming pool fed by the spring is now enjoyed by families and scuba drivers (in the deep part). No thirsty mules or cattle are allowed to approach. There are changing rooms, picnic tables, and a snack bar. But the presence of abundant water in the midst of the sagebrush is still miraculous.