Canyon Lake History
Photo of Canyon Lake

CANYON LAKE, TEXAS. Water impoundment began in 1964 and the conservation pool level was reached in 1968. Canyon Lake, formerly known as Canyon Reservoir, is on the Guadalupe River twelve miles northwest of New Braunfels in northern Comal County (at 29°52' N, 98°12' W). The project is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. The local cooperative agency is the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority,qv which, for paying part of the cost, has rights to the conservation storage space and control over the use and release of conservation water. The lake, formed by a rolled earthfill dam 6,830 feet long, is used for flood control, water conservation, and recreation. Construction of the dam was started on June 27, 1958, and impoundment of water began on June 16, 1964. The general contractor was Tecon Corporation of Dallas. The crest of the spillway is 943 feet above mean sea level, and the conservation storage capacity is 382,000 acre-feet with a surface area of 8,240 acres and a sixty-mile shoreline at 909 feet above mean sea level. Stored water is used for municipal, industrial, and irrigation purposes and for the development of hydroelectric power downstream. The drainage area above the dam is 1,432 square miles.

 

Photo of the Canyon Lake Dam

The construction of the dam and subsequent growth of the area surrounding the lake are among the most significant developments in twentieth-century Comal County history. Inundating a portion of the Guadalupe River valley cost the area productive farm and ranch land as well as two rural communities-Cranes Mill and Hancock-but it also stimulated development that transformed the economy and demography of the county. After the lake was filled north central Comal County became one of the largest population centers in Central Texas and the focus of a resort and tourist industry that rivaled manufacturing and agriculture in importance to the county economy. The dam made possible land development along the lake shore and in the area downstream, which for the first time was protected from periodic flooding. Even as the lake was filling, the first residential subdivisions-including Canyon Lake Hills and Canyon Lake Village-began attracting permanent and temporary residents. By 1967 there were forty-six subdivisions on the shores of Canyon Lake and fourteen more in the hills surrounding it. By the mid-1980s more than eighty neighborhoods had been built, and estimates of the permanent population of the lake area ranged from 12,000 to 15,000. Seven lakeside public parks and two public marinas served thousands of weekend visitors. Residents and tourists supported a variety of new businesses and service industries that transformed the former farm and ranch communities of Sattler and Startzville into thriving commercial centers and occasioned the new town of Canyon City. In the late 1980s two schools and thirteen churches served the permanent residents of the lake area. The Canyon Lake community, forty-eight miles from San Antonio and fifty-six from Austin, continued to attract new commuter, retired, and weekend residents.

 

CRANES MILL, TEXAS. Cranes Mill, a stock-raising community seventeen miles northwest of New Braunfels in central Comal County, was named for J. B. Crain, who built a mill at the Gum Spring crossing on the Guadalupe River in the early 1850s. The spelling became Crane when a post office was established there before the Civil War.qv Postal service to Cranes Mill may have been interrupted just after the war, but by 1872 August Engel, a minister, teacher, and storeowner, ran the community's post office in his store. His son succeeded him and was postmaster there until the rural mail route from Fischer's Store was established. The Cranes Mill community recorded a population of twenty-five until the 1940s. The Cranes Mill school was eventually consolidated with a nearby school district. The remains of the town disappeared under Canyon Lake when it began filling in the 1960s, but in the 1980s a lakeside park still carried the name Cranes Mill.

 

HANCOCK, TEXAS (Comal County). Hancock, in the Hancock Valley fifteen miles northeast of New Braunfels in northern Comal County, was named for John Hancock, who in 1851 was granted land on the north bank of the Guadalupe River. The community was served by the Sorrell Creek school. The Hancock post office opened in 1914 in a private residence, operated later in the Frank Guenther store, and then was discontinued. In 1940 the farming and ranching community had a population of ten and was on a postal route from Fischer Store. The town grew to forty residents in the 1950s, but in the early 1960s when the Canyon Lake dam was completed, the townsite was submerged.

 

POTTER CREEK. Potter Creek rises near Big Head Mountain in northern Comal County (at 29°58' N, 98°17' W) and flows southeasterly for 4½ miles to its mouth on Canyon Lake on the Guadalupe River (at 29°55' N, 98°15' W). It crosses an area of the Balcones Escarpment characterized by limestone benches and steep slopes that give a stairstep appearance to the landscape along the creek. Soil in the area is generally dark, calcareous stony clay and clay loam with rock outcroppings, and vegetation consists primarily of live oak and Ashe juniper woods. It is likely that the creek was named for Michael W. Potter, a local landowner. From 1875 to 1888 the stream was the site of a school, Potter Creek School, that served the nearby community of Fischer's Store (now known simply as Fischer).

 

REBECCA CREEK. Rebecca Creek rises in southeastern Blanco County (at 29°58' N, 98°25' W) 10½ miles south of Blanco and runs southeast for about eight miles to its mouth (at 29°55' N, 98°20' W) on the western edge of Canyon Lake on the Guadalupe River. Springs and several ponds, most dammed, lie along its course, which crosses an area of the Balcones Escarpmentqv characterized by steep slopes and limestone benches, giving a stairstep look to the landscape along the creek. Soils in the area are generally dark, calcareous, stony clays and clay loams with rock outcrops, and vegetation consists primarily of live oak and Ashe juniper woods. The creek was named for Jacob Raphael de Cordova'sqv wife, Rebecca, late in the 1840s.

 

SATTLER, TEXAS. Sattler, ten miles northwest of New Braunfels in the hills of east central Comal County, has also been known as Mountain Valley, for the local school, and as Walhalla, for the Walhalla Singing Club organized there in 1877. The post office was named for William Sattler when it opened in his home in 1856. Sattler had settled in Comal Town in 1846 and at Mountain Valley in 1853. Later the post office was moved to a general store, which became a business and social center for area farmers and ranchers. Part of the Sattler community extended into Hidden Valley, which was settled in 1863. The valley comprised more than 1,000 acres of farmland on the west bank of a bend in the Guadalupe River. Sattler had an estimated twenty-five residents until shortly after World War II.qv Records suggest it was virtually deserted by the 1950s; its revival in the mid-1960s followed the completion of nearby Canyon Dam and the inundation of the valley above Sattler. Thereafter Sattler served residents and tourists of the Canyon Lake area. Its population was estimated at thirty in 1990.

 

STARTZVILLE, TEXAS. Startzville is on Farm Road 2673 thirteen miles northeast of New Braunfels in central Comal County. It was established in 1935 by members of the Startz family, who built a small store. With the completion of nearby Canyon Dam in 1964, the community began to grow. Although the population of Startzville proper was estimated at only thirty in 1966, much of the land near the lake was developed as residential subdivisions. Several businesses were established at Startzville to serve the general population of the Canyon Lake region. The community had a population of thirty in 1990.

 

Canyon Lake Census Data

Information Courtesy of The Handbook of Texas Online

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Canyon Lake Texas is a true hidden treasure of the Central Texas Hill Country. With breathtaking waterfront and lake views; this is the place where many are starting to call home. White tailed deer, foxes, roadrunners, and other wildlife are in abundance in the Texas Hill Country and especially at Canyon Lake. The Texas Hill Country is famous for its hilly terrain, live oak trees, limestone rocks, native animals, and clean fresh air.

 

Canyon Lake, Texas has so much to offer: Boating/Sailing, Water Skiing, Kayaking, Fishing, Scuba Diving, Helicopter Tours, Parasailing, Hiking, Dining, Shopping, and much more. Canyon Lake is located just forty miles north of San Antonio and twenty-five miles west of New Braunfels and San Marcos.

 

Canyon Lake has eight Corps of Engineer Public Parks, 23 boat ramps, two marinas, campgrounds, golf course, country club, and yacht club. The lake has a surface area of 8,230 acres and 80 miles of shoreline. Canyon Lake releases water down stream into the famous Guadalupe River.

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