I Wonder: History of Hamilton Pool




Posted on May 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 7:01 AM

What is the history of Hamilton Pool?

After visiting Hamilton Pool a couple of weekends ago, I could not help but wonder about the history of this magnificent, natural swimming hole located 30 miles southwest of Austin.

As I lay on the rocky beach staring up at the green, jagged cliffs above the 50-foot waterfall, I could easily envision one of the Tonkawa or Lipan Apaches that used to call the area home.

According to the Travis County website, the collapsed grotto and canyon that surrounds the refreshing pool was formed thousands of years ago by water erosion. Now, the area hosts a variety of plant and animal species, in addition to serving as one of the Hill Country’s hidden gems.

Travis Co. information states that Apache Indians lived in the Hamilton Pool area in the 1800s. In the mid 1860s the area was owned by Morgan C. Hamilton, whose brother Andrew was the 10th governor of Texas. An immigrant family bought the property in the 1880s, and it is their eight-year-old son whom legend credits with finding the swimming hole.

That family, the Reimers, allowed the area to be used recreationally – a trend that grew over the years. According to the county, by the 1960s “Hamilton Pool’s popularity had soared, as visitors packed the legendary swimming hole. The land suffered from sheer numbers and few restrictions.” So, “in 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore Hamilton Pool.” In 1990 the pool was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner's Court.

Now that the weather is warm enough, go for a hike, picnic, or swim at Hamilton Pool Preserve and see this historic piece of land for yourself!

Do note, the pool’s water is not treated chemically; it must be monitored closely for bacteria, especially after heavy rains. A high bacteria count, flooding, or hazardous trail conditions have been known to occasionally close the pool. So before you go, call (512) 264-2740.

Click here for the pool’s hours and more information.

Click here to send Rebekah your I Wonder question.

Click the video player to watch Meghan Danahey's 2008 profile of Hamilton Pool.

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