History

The Deep, As Well As the Submerged, History of Canyon Lake

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As settlers began to make their way into the Guadalupe River Valley, a man by the name of John Hancock was granted land on the northern side of the river, approximately 15 miles northwest of New Braunfels. A second, by the name of James B. Crain, established a mill at the Gum Spring crossing, approximately 17 miles from New Braunfels. It was the early 1850s, and small towns began to grow up around them. Naturally, they were named for their founding settlers, and therefore went by Hancock and Crain’s Mill, respectively.

The Deep, As Well As the Submerged, History of Canyon Lake

Photo: Flickr/Marion Doss

Over time, many changes to these towns took place, including the opening and closing of businesses, the relocated of townspeople, and the complete closing and renaming of one of the towns altogether (from Crain’s Mill to Crane’s Mill). Additional little communities such as Sattler and Startzville also grew from similar circumstances in similar ways, and development in the area maintained a steady pace. Many of these communities’ settlers were farmers, and each community had its own economic base, dance hall, and school. Although there was no formally established church building, services were held in a local school or an open field, and everyday life seemed to carry on reasonably well for a time. By the 1920s however, an increase of boll weevils followed by a decrease of cotton production was wreaking havoc on the area’s economy. The resulting decline in jobs and income left the settlements practically deserted by the 1950s. In the late ‘50s, however, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began working on a dam construction project approximately 12 miles northwest of New Braunfels. The project created such an economic boon for the area, that a new town called Canyon City was established in 1958. The dam was completed and water control began in 1964, forming Canyon Lake. By 1968, the lake had filled more than 8,000 acres, and the towns of Hancock and Crane’s Mill were completely submerged.

The Deep, As Well As the Submerged, History of Canyon Lake
Photo: Facebook/Landscapes of the Texas Hill Country Via Jeff Downs

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