3 Things You May Not Know About the Guadalupe River

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The Guadalupe River, which flows from Kerr County to the Gulf of Mexico, is a popular tubing attraction during the summer for tourists and locals alike. From the popular river float to fly fishing, to kayaking and live music venues, the Guadalupe River has a wide array of activities for all interests.

1. Namesake and History

Guadalupe River

Photo: Wikimedia.org/Larry D. Moore

The Guadalupe River was first named in 1689 by Alonso de Leon, who named it after Our Lady of Guadalupe, an important figure in the Catholic faith. The river was later renamed when other explorers established a colony on it, but the name Guadalupe persisted.

The first German settlement in Texas was established on the Guadalupe River in 1844. 228 settlers led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels made their way to the river and established New Braunfels.

2. 1987 Tragedy

Guadalupe Flood

Photo: Facebook/ Guadalupe State Park – Texas Parks & Wildlife

The Guadalupe River gained national attention in the summer of 1987, when almost a foot of rain fell in the Hill Country overnight, causing a flash flood along the river.

The Pot o’ Gold Ranch, just outside of Comfort, was hosting a youth church camp, with about 300 children from all over the state. The camp was set to end on the afternoon of July 17th, but it was decided that the camp needed to be evacuated early that morning before the waters rose any higher, as the camp exit crossed a low water area.

The last bus to leave, one from a church near Dallas, stalled in the rising water. The children were instructed to hold hands, and walk across in a chain. However, a rush of water broke their chain, and the children were swept away in the floodwaters. Rescuers in helicopters were able to save all four adults and 29 of the children, but sadly, the remaining 10 children perished.

The story of the accident and rescues aired on an episode of Rescue 911, and became the plot for a television movie entitled The Flood: Who Will Save Our Children?

3. State Park

Guadalupe River State Park

Photo: Facebook/ Guadalupe State Park – Texas Parks & Wildlife

Located in Spring Branch, just a short drive from San Antonio, the Guadalupe River State Park boasts four miles of river frontage. The park is a popular swimming hole but also features camping, hiking, fishing, and ranger programs, among other activities. The park opened in 1983 and is an ideal destination for those who seek the more untouched natural beauty of the Hill Country.