The Rich History of Canyon Lake

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The lake was intended to serve primarily as a reservoir for the city of San Antonio, but it had the secondary effect of transforming the economy of Comal County. Even before the lake was filled, construction had begun on dozens of new subdivisions along the 60-mile lakefront and in the hills around it. By the mid-1980s, more than 80 new neighborhoods had been built, and the little ranching communities of Sattler and Startzville had become thriving commercial centers serving tourists from nearby Austin and San Antonio. The full-time population of the lake area was estimated at 12-16,000, and many thousands more were in the area on weekends.

In 1994, a museum was formed to preserve and display some of the area’s rich history. The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country, on Rt. 2673 between Startzville and Sattler, includes a site with more than 350 dinosaur tracks and a “trail of native plants,” and illustrates Native American and pioneer history and the building of Canyon Dam.

The Rich History of Canyon Lake

Photo: canyonlakemarinastx.com

In 2002, six weeks of flooding led to the formation of the remarkable Canyon Lake Gorge, when a torrent of water carved a new canyon, which plunges as much as 80 feet at its deepest spot, and exposed hidden rock formations, fossils and dinosaur footprints in a previously-unknown fault line.

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates eight lakeside parks for public use, and there are yacht clubs on the north and south sides of the lake. All sorts of water recreation is available; there are 23 boat ramps, two marinas, campgrounds, hiking trails, golf courses and a country club. The area has an abundance of fine lodgings and restaurants; the scenery is spectacular, and Canyon Lake is recognized as one of the Hill Country’s leading tourist and retirement destinations.