The city spins around us,
But we've dropped into the past
A lovely piece of parkland
Hope the springs will last.
A tiny little marker
Tersely tells a tale
Of events back in the Republic
At this end of the Shoal Creek Trail.
Marker in Seider Springs Park telling of a 1842 Massacre.
The Park has more going for it than death and destruction, however -- and while the historical marker may be terse, there's lots of information of place... read on, if you care.
Seiders Springs Park (between 38th & 34th Streets)
Seiders Springs Park is named after Edward Seider, an early European settler to the immediate area. The park is located between Seton and Shoal Creek Hospitals. Picnic tables and park benches have been placed at Seider Springs Park. At this park begins the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike trail leading to downtown and Town Lake. Actual springs continue to flow from the limestone ledge on the east side of the creek (despite the close construction of the Seton hospital complex and parking lots). In the late 1800's a lake (called at the time Alamo Lake) and a bath house existed at Seider Springs. At this site also occurred one of the area's last Indian raids in 1841 (see historical maker in the park).
by Charles Brian Owen
(for photos -- noted here -- follow article link)
PHOTO: Bath House at Seiders Springs (AHC Pica 18489)
1842 was a rough year for Gideon White. In that year, he was one of several people in the Austin area to he massacred by Indians. Originally from Alabama, he had moved his family in 1839 to the artesian springs near Shoal Creek, just outside the new capital of the Republic of Texas. White built a log cabin there and ignoring warnings about Indians, on Oct. 25th, 1842 he went looking for cattle, taking along a gun but not his horse. About a quarter mile west of the springs, White was overtaken by Indians (probably Comanches) and a terrific fight ensued. White killed one or two Indians before being killed himself. A large oak tree at the site bore sears of the battle for many years afterward.
This was the first of many events to take place at Seiders (pronounced cedars) Springs. Located on the east bank of Shoal Creek between West 34th and West 35th streets, west of Lamar, the springs are a short walk from ourneighborhood. Four years after the fight. Ed Seiders, who was in the grocery and livery businesses, married Louisa Maria White, one of Gideon White's daughters. For a time they lived at the springs that took their name, as did the oak grove along the creek.
PHOTO: Children at the Bath House ruins (AHC Pica 08215)
From 1847 to 1865 Fort Austin and other army forts used water from the springs. The old concrete bridge beside the West 34th Street bridge over Shoal Creek dates back to the 1850s, when it was part of the principal road leaving Austin to the west. General Robert F. Lee once camped near the springs and when an epidemic (probably cholera) broke out, his troops buried a number of men near Pease Park. In 1865, General George Armstrong Custer camped at the springs with his men on Glenn Ridge, probably where Shoal Creek Hospital stands today. He was military governor of Texas for a few months, and his relationship with the people of Austin can best be described as mutual admiration. He sincerely liked and admired the people of Texas, and they responded in kind. Custer wrote his family that "Texas is the real future of America," and urged them to move here. The Texas Legislature was the only state legislature to send official condolences to Custer's family after his death at Little Big Horn.
PHOTO: Original Glrn Ridge plat map (Shoal Creek between 34th & 38th streets)
From 1871 to 1890, Seiders operated a pleasure resort and playground at the springs. Baths were cut out of the limestone slope, covered with bathhouses and filled from the springs. A special feature was an ambulance which ran daily to and from the Avenue Hotel in town. In 1890, Ed Seiders sold the springs to a New York developer who tried unsuccessfully to establish a subdivision there. He built a dam at tile springs called Alamo Dam and featured swans and picnic tables on the shores. The dam, along with the Colorado River dam, was destroyed in the flood of 1900.
Published with permission of Charles Brian Owen member of
the Heritage Neighborhood Association
A LITTLE MORE RECENT HISTORY ==========================
scott swearingen Blog
The first Hike and Bike: Janet Fish and the Shoal Creek trail
Many people are unaware of the history that preceeds the SOS movement of the 1990s, and that is one reason I wrote this book. A host of people and groups were very active in creating the Environmental City in the "early days" of the late 1960s and 1970s. It was during that time that the ideas about using creeks for greenbelts took shape, and the first hike and bike trails were built. These became the model for what we build today. Below is the story of one such person, Janet Fish, who we have to thank for the Shoal Creek hike and bike trail.
Another person who had a huge influence on the creation of Austin's landscape was Janet Fish, the daughter of Walter Long, and wife of Russell Fish. Walter Long had come to Austin in the early years of the century and was one of the prime movers in Austin. He served as the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce from 1914 to 1949, actively promoting a vision of a growing Austin all his life. The family home sits on a hill overlooking Shoal Creek. Janet had grown up riding her family horses on an old bridle path along that creek. The path had been built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Depression, but had fallen into disrepair since the city was not willing to spend money on its upkeep. Janet, along with Dickson and Parks Director Beverly Sheffield, saw the creek as a natural parkway and wanted to restore the old CCC trail. She approached the city about ways that the creek could be cleaned up and the bridle path restored. But the city was not willing to spend the money required.
Janet, on the other hand, had decided that something was going to happen, and she set about making it happen. Since the city would not dedicate the money required, Janet contracted the city to do much of the restoration work, using her own money. Parks Director Sheffield recalls that "one day Janet came down to the office and wrote out a $5,000 check to the city. Later on, her husband Russell joked that check was her new car!" That was a lot of money in the 1950s, but $5,000 did not cover the entire expense to make the trail. So Janet got community organizations such as the Boy Scouts and church groups to donate time and labor to clear and build the trail. In addition, Janet actually made a map of all the houses along the trail for its first section. She went to each household, asking them to take responsibility for a small section of the creek adjacent to their property. Asked if this helped, she laughed, "Sure--then their yard help wouldn't go over and dump their trash on [it]!" Most residents were enthusiastic, and many who lived along the trail volunteered time to keep it clean. Several households organized their children into "junior deputies" who were told to watch the trail and report anyone dumping trash. Janet actually "deputized" the kids, giving them badges and note pads on which to write the names of transgressors.
Both Fishes, Roberta Dickson, Sheffield, and many others hoped to extend the trail well up the creek, past its present end at 35th Street. But they had trouble with landowners who would not grant easement rights. The land on the creek that presently houses Seton Hospital contains a set of free-flowing springs, named Seiders Springs. The original plan to build Seton would have ruined the spring and used land the Fishes wanted for the Hike and Bike. Russell and the landowner fought at the city council, Russell asking that the landowner not be given the right to build over the spring. "We are friends again now, but we fought bitterly over that land," says Russell. The owner eventually agreed to set the hospital back so as not to destroy the spring, and gave the trail a right-of-way. In 1976 three sisters descended from original settlers, the Seiders, gave a $10,000 donation to restore the park at the springs where they had grown up. This donation allowed the city to create Seiders Park, presently the northern terminus of the trail.
The Seiders sisters gave their money to conserve the land as a public good, but other landowners farther up the creek were not to be moved. As Russell approached them about trail access, some agreed, but many would not hear of it. The reason many gave was that "They didn't want 'common people' wandering along their property."
Janet gave her Shoal Creek trail the name "Hike and Bike Trail," a name that stuck. The trail became a model linear park at both the local and national levels. One of Janet's friends was Liz Carpenter, assistant to Lady Bird Johnson (wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson). Janet gave pictures of the Hike and Bike to Carpenter, who showed them to Lady Bird. Lady Bird was so impressed with the trail that she passed out pictures of it in her beautification efforts around the country. As the trail got national acclaim, several national magazines wrote articles on it, and Janet got calls from other cities asking how the project was done. As a form of landscape, the Hike and Bike Trail served as the model for all the future greenbelts in Austin, showing how area creeks could be used for recreation and parks rather than dumping grounds. It also provided a name for an idea used by other cities across the nation, for the first time placing Austin in the forefront of thinking about environmental landforms and city designs.
Historical period: Republic of Texas (1836 - 1845)
Historical topics: Frontier Settlements
Species: Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
Public access?: Yes
Tree Tour: Coming Soon
Shortly after construction of the new capitol city at Austin began in 1839, Gideon White moved his family to the new settlement and built a log cabin near a fine spring on Shoal Creek. While passing through a live oak grove, less than a quarter mile from his cabin in the spring of 1842, White was set upon by a band of mounted Indians. He fought valiantly from behind one of the large live oaks and killed at least one of his attackers before being killed himself. The marks of a number of arrows and bullets which hit the tree were visible for many years. White was one of several residents of the Austin area who were massacred by the Indians that year.
Four years after his death, White's daughter, Louisa Maria, married Edward Seiders, who was then engaged in the livery and grocery businesses in Austin. For a time they lived in her father's cabin at the springs, which became known as Seiders Springs, and the nearby oak grove as Seiders Oaks.
After the election of 1850, when Austin was again selected as the seat of government, the capitol's growth increased. The Seiders family was among Austin's new residents that year. In 1865, General George Custer and his men camped under the sheltering live oaks at Seiders Springs.
By the 1870s, Seiders Springs had become a popular recreation spot. Seiders erected bath houses, picnic tables, and a dance pavilion at the Springs which bore his name. He even provided for his patrons a means of transportation to and from town.
turn right (north) on Lamar Blvd. and go 1.8 mi. Turn left on 34th St. and go 0.2 mi. to the Shoal Creek greenbelt. The Seiders Oaks are on the west side of the creek along the greenbelt path, between 34th and 38th streets.
And even a wikipedia link:
and, though not very informative, the Austin Parks Link